Ramsey again making most of switch
RANTOUL — He has played more positions than a utility infielder. Four so far. And counting.
Illinois junior Jack Ramsey showed Sunday he is making progress at his new spot, free safety.
The first drive by the No. 1 offense against the No. 2 defense ended when Ramsey picked off Nathan Scheelhaase's pass.
It was the same play that had gone for 21 yards during Saturday's lightning-abbreviated scrimmage at Rantoul High School. Fool me once ...
"We went in this morning, watched film and Coach Vic (Koenning) called the second group 'scared,' " Ramsey said. "We wanted to step up to the challenge early and deliver.
"It was huge for me. Coach told me, 'Look for the dig (route).' I looked for the dig and I picked it off today."
Ramsey feels like he might have a home at free safety. He said it feels more natural to him.
Koenning hopes so.
"It was good for him to get the interception," Koenning said. "I think it ought to keep him motivated to keep working hard. We've got to have some help, so hopefully he's a guy who can help us there."
A high school quarterback at Chicago Simeon (with Martez Wilson), Ramsey came to Illinois originally as a receiver. After redshirting in 2008, Ramsey had 16 catches in 2009. He was one of the team's leading returning receivers.
But when injuries decimated the secondary before the start of the 2010 season, Ramsey moved to cornerback.
He changed positions again before the start of training camp. Why? It started with Ashante Williams being suspended from the team for a DUI arrest. That led Trulon Henry to move from safety to Williams' spot at outside linebacker. Needing depth at safety, Ramsey slid over from cornerback.
"Jack is learning safety," Illinois coach Ron Zook said. "It's a lot different than playing corner. He's throwing it up in there and doing a nice job. I'm happy with Jack."
Ramsey wasn't always happy about playing defense. Toward the end of the 2010 season he briefly considered a transfer. He's glad he stayed.
"Coach Zook did a good job of talking to me," Ramsey said. "I got frustrated. That was the biggest thing. He made sure I've got a new role. Everybody makes mistakes when they're young. I'm enjoying it now."
Change of plans. Because of Sunday's scrimmage, Illinois won't have a double session today. Instead, the team will have a single workout starting at 3:30 p.m. The team will have its second and final double session Wednesday, with practices at 8:05 a.m. and 6:15 p.m.