Like many of his fellow defenders, Ramik Wilson had to adjust to a new starting role this season, and on the fly.
Wilson, a 6-foot-2, 232 pound inside linebacker from Tampa, Fla., claims he had a tough time getting used to his new role as a starter this season, but teammate Reggie Carter doesn’t agree.
“It was great seeing Ramik from the inside get what, about five sacks,” Carter said. “He had a great year and it looked like he had experience out there the way he was playing.”
Wilson led his team and the Southeastern Conference with 128 total tackles this season. The junior also brought down quarterbacks on four sacks for a total of 22 yards. While he ultimately had success on a consistent basis, Wilson said it didn’t start out easy.
“It was the game speed. It was real fast, but it slowed down for me,” Wilson said. “This is one of the best conferences and to be right there at inside linebacker it’s a whole new world in there. Everything slowed down and I feel like I picked up real good and I’m ready to go.”
Wilson credits the depth of Georgia’s pass rushers for his success this year. The new faces on the Bulldogs’ defense helped make Wilson feel more comfortable.
“It helps a lot. Leonard Floyd and Jordan (Jenkins), they do their thing, and Ray (Drew) and Sterling (Bailey) — all of them,” Wilson said. “It helps open up the gaps a little bit more for me to make plays, but you know we play team defense and that’s what we do.”
The season Wilson had in 2013 earned him a spot on the list of All-SEC first team selections. While his rise to power came quick in his first year as a starter, Wilson said there’s still a lot of work he has to do. “I think it went pretty well. There are a lot of things I’ve got to improve on; a lot of things,” Wilson said. “As the season goes on I see my game improving a little bit more. I’m getting more comfortable being a first year starter. I’ve just got to keep working and I should be just fine.”
And the NFL Draft talks can’t help but surface. However, Wilson still has his eye on the prize, with the prize being a Gator Bowl victory in Jacksonville, Fla., to close out the season.
“I’m new to all this, so all I’m doing is getting ready to play Nebraska,” Wilson said. “I’m not even thinking about the NFL right now or anything.”
That doesn’t mean a future in the NFL isn’t on his mind, though. It’s just a matter of how soon he’ll be ready to take the next step.
“I don’t know yet. I’m still talking it over with Coach O (Kirk Olivadotti),” Wilson said. “Coach O knows all about it and he pretty much knows where I would go, so we’re still talking about all that and I trust him. I don’t know right now.”
Luckily Wilson has a capable draft mentor in his inside linebackers coach. Olivadotti had a run of 11 seasons on the coaching staff for the NFL’s Washington Redskins, and knows what a scout looks for at Wilson’s position.
“He’s been in the NFL for a long time and scouted guys, so he knows. I trust him and me and him will make the right decision,” Wilson said.
Until Wilson decides to make that decision, though, he’s just making the most of his time in Athens — making sure the linebackers who follow him will be ready when their name is called.
“We hang out all the time. It’s like him and Amarlo (Herrera), I mean they’re like my big brothers,” Carter said. “I hang around Ramik a lot and I learned a lot about him off the field and on the field watching him play. I understand a lot of stuff about life and football.”