Hard work and a little patience has brought senior Jalaen Ramsey to the forefront of the Shelbyville football program.
Ramsey, a six-foot-three receiver strong enough to break tackles and quick enough to run away from defenders, has slowly climbed the depth chart over the last three seasons.
And as he showed Friday in the Golden Bears’ season-opening win over Greensburg, Ramsey is on track to have a breakout season.
“I was kind of behind Mitch (Orem) for awhile and then Blake Miller and Justin Sueko,” said Ramsey. “I just watched and learned from them.”
Ramsey produced 10 catches in 2015 — fourth most on the team — for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
On Friday against the Pirates, Ramsey had four receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown. He credits the offseason work he did with quarterback John Lux to becoming a more viable offensive weapon.
“John and I worked a lot in the offseason, especially after track (and field),” said Ramsey. “I would run routes with him 2-3 days of the week.”
Ramsey has the size and strength to be a deep down-the-field threat this season but, against Greensburg, he showed he can score from anywhere on the field.
Taking the snap from his own 30-yard line, Lux wheeled right and fired a strike to Ramsey, who shook his defender then showed off the speed that helped him become part of the track program’s record-setting 400-meter relay team last Spring.
“He did some things late for us last season,” said Shelbyville head coach Pat Parks. “So we moved him from tight end to wide receiver and he had a good summer for us.”
It all goes back to the offseason work for Ramsey.
“Like I said, John and I worked a lot in the offseason so we’re confident in each other,” he said. “I’ve never really had someone that can throw the ball as far as I can run. All offseason I was stopping (routes) and looking back and he would out-throw me. So I had to have the confidence to run as fast as I can no matter what because he will get it there.”
Ramsey finished up practice Wednesday and hung around the new lockerroom facility as the elementary football players roamed around waiting for a thunderstorm to pass. A decade ago, it was Ramsey in the same position with the dreams of one day wearing the black and gold and playing on Friday nights.
“Some of them know me… and I don’t really know them but they know me,” said Ramsey with a smile. “It’s crazy to think about that because I was looking up to players when I was their age. I remember when the players used to go out on the field and I was there giving them high-fives. It was awesome.”
If Ramsey keeps producing, there are going to be plenty of high-fives in his future.
Jeff Brown is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Jeff on Twitter at @iamtsnsports.