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‚Äôt agree.¬†
‚ÄúIt was great seeing Ramik from the inside get what, about five sacks,‚Äù Carter said. ‚ÄúHe had a great year and it looked like he had experience out there the way he was playing.‚Äù
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‚Äôt start out easy.
‚ÄúIt was the game speed. It was real fast, but it slowed down for me,‚Äù Wilson said. ‚ÄúThis is one of the best conferences and to be right there at inside linebacker it‚Äôs a whole new world in there. Everything slowed down and I feel like I picked up real good and I‚Äôm ready to go.‚Äù
Wilson credits the depth of Georgia‚Äôs pass rushers for his success this year. The new faces on the Bulldogs‚Äô defense helped make Wilson feel more comfortable. ¬†
‚ÄúIt helps a lot. Leonard Floyd and Jordan (Jenkins), they do their thing, and Ray (Drew) and Sterling (Bailey) ‚Äî all of them,‚Äù Wilson said. ‚ÄúIt helps open up the gaps a little bit more for me to make plays, but you know we play team defense and that‚Äôs what we do.‚Äù
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‚Äôs still a lot of work he has to do. ¬†‚ÄúI think it went pretty well. There are a lot of things I‚Äôve got to improve on; a lot of things,‚Äù Wilson said. ‚ÄúAs the season goes on I see my game improving a little bit more. I‚Äôm getting more comfortable being a first year starter. I‚Äôve just got to keep working and I should be just fine.‚Äù
And the NFL Draft talks can‚Äôt 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.¬†
‚ÄúI‚Äôm new to all this, so all I‚Äôm doing is getting ready to play Nebraska,‚Äù Wilson said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not even thinking about the NFL right now or anything.‚Äù
That doesn‚Äôt mean a future in the NFL isn‚Äôt on his mind, though. It‚Äôs just a matter of how soon he‚Äôll be ready to take the next step.¬†
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt know yet. I‚Äôm still talking it over with Coach O (Kirk Olivadotti),‚Äù Wilson said. ‚ÄúCoach O knows all about it and he pretty much knows where I would go, so we‚Äôre still talking about all that and I trust him. I don‚Äôt know right now.‚Äù
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‚Äôs Washington Redskins, and knows what a scout looks for at Wilson‚Äôs position.¬†
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs 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,‚Äù Wilson said.¬†
Until Wilson decides to make that decision, though, he‚Äôs just making the most of his time in Athens ‚Äî making sure the linebackers who follow him will be ready when their name is called.¬†
‚ÄúWe hang out all the time. It‚Äôs like him and Amarlo (Herrera), I mean they‚Äôre like my big brothers,‚Äù Carter said. ‚ÄúI 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.‚Äù