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September 27, 2013
True freshman receiver Jumichael Ramos has played just 32 snaps in two games — he did not play in game two against Richmond — but he has made the most out of his limited opportunities. The 6-foot-3, 198-pounder tallied just nine snaps in the season opener, but he logged a 28-yard reception; only two players have recorded longer catches this year for the Wolfpack.
After fellow rookie receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling went down in the third game with an injury, Ramos' playing time saw a significant bump. He was in for 23 plays against Clemson on ESPN's nationally-televised Thursday night contest and came through with two huge fourth-down catches that moved the chains and helped keep the Pack alive on their final touchdown drive. He finished with a pair of grabs for 23 yards, and currently ranks fourth on the squad with 51 receiving yards.
"I was just staying focused and when my number was called, I made sure I did what I needed to do for the team to succeed," Ramos noted. "They were good experiences. With me coming in to ACC football, I now know what it feels like and I know the atmosphere now."
With Valdes-Scantling questionable for Saturday's game against Central Michigan, Ramos took his spot on the depth chart at the 'X' position, behind fifth-year senior Quintin Payton. Although Ramos wants his classmate back on the field as soon as possible, he also admitted that he's doing his best to stay right where he's at now.
"I just have to step up this week," he said. "We've got a player down so I'm going to do my part. Hopefully, it works out for the best. It's a big opportunity. I just want to stay focused, make sure I come out and do what I need to do and make big plays.
"I would describe myself as a deep-threat guy, but physical, strong and strong-minded. I'm just a guy that's willing to eat and won't back down from anybody."
The coaches told Ramos when they were recruiting him that if he came to NC State and showed that he deserved to play, he would. That is exactly what is happening right now, thanks to all of the hard work the pass catcher put in this past summer.
"I knew that I had a chance to come in and play, I just had to fight for my job no matter who was here," he said. "We had six receivers come in this year and my mindset was to be in the top three, which I did.
"We knew that we were all good coming in. We worked over the summer and got up on our own to work with the B. Mitch [Arkansas transfer quarterback Brandon Mitchell]. We worked with him a lot in the summer. We knew what we had with each other and we knew that somebody was going to have to play. We knew if we worked with each other and kept driving, we had a chance to play this year."
Although Ramos has already accomplished the first goal he set, he is far from satisfied and raising his standards as his playing time increases. However, for now, the goals stay simple for the first-year player.
"I want no dropped passes — if I see it, I catch it," he said. "I want to know all of the plays and stay focused."
Ramos said he has been aided by the fact that the NCSU offense is not too different from the spread one he thrived in during high school; he has just had to get used to the faster pace and different terminology.
The transition was so smooth that the older players knew Ramos, along with several of the other talented rookie pass catchers who are seeing the field, would contribute right away.
"When they first got here, we said, 'this is the tempo of the offense so make sure you're in shape coming into the season,'" redshirt junior receiver Bryan Underwood remembered. "They took what we said to heart. They came to camp and they all worked their butts off. They learned, ran extra routes, learned how to get open and watched film. They took it all serious and came in ready to go.
"[Ramos] has got a lot of determination. He's been itching to get more reps and plays. In practice, I can just feel that he wants to get better. He's not taking anything for granted. He's coachable and he's ready to go."
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