Head injury won’t stop Darius Ramsey

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Ramsey, on the offense for the Cat’s, holds off Wofford Terriers defense. Photo from Ramsey Instagram with permission.

The football career for the senior running back, Darius Ramsey,  at Western Carolina University (WCU) ended just a little too early.

On Sept. 19, like any other game day for the Cats, Darius Ramsey was suited up and ready to give his all to insure WCU victory. What he didn’t know was that would be his last time playing on the field for the Cats. An offensive play by WCU concluded with Ramsey being tackled by a player on the defense for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Vols. The tackle resulted in a concussion for Ramsey.

Over the course of his football career Ramsey has suffered from a number of concussions. He admits to having three recorded by WCU’s football program and others that were not. However, none have been as severe as the one that made him have to choose between his future, and the game he has grown to love and admire since the age of five.

Prior to making the big decision Ramsey said that he underwent few test and doctors appointments to help him decide whether or not he was going to continue playing out his senior year. After consulting with his family, coaches and medical professionals it was agreed that the game at Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium sealed Ramsey’s football career.
That did not stop him earning his second spot on the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District 3 team, making him the sixth Catamount football player of all time to earn numerous all-district accolades.

“I am honored. I didn’t know that was the case, until the article came out this month. I am honored to be in the mist of those people, but it is just a testament to hard work. I took being the student athlete part serious, so the student always came first,” said Ramsey.

He began his college football career at WCU in the fall of 2012 as one of the first players recruited by the Cats head football coach, Mark Speir. During his time at WCU, Ramsey has been a 3-time Southern Conference Honor Roll recipient, Candidate for the 2015 National Football Foundation (NFF) Scholar Athlete Award, a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, as well as other prestigious honors.

“I don’t think too much about those things. At the end it was just hard work, and a good support system. There were always people who kept me up during times where I wanted to quit. I don’t do what I do to get awards, I just try to be the best I can be and those were just the result of it,” said Ramsey about his WCU career.

The hit Ramsey suffered from cannot compare to the impact that he has made in the lives of those who know him.

Darius Ramsey waving to the crowd after a 24-21 win against Mercer, Oct. 10, 2015. Photo by Larissa Capps

Darius Ramsey waving to the crowd after a 24-21 win against Mercer, Oct. 10, 2015. Photo by Larissa Capps

His former football coach from Burns High School, Matt Beam, describes Ramsey  as “the greatest all-around leader, student, and athlete” he has ever had the pleasure to coach.

“Players sometimes forget that they are a student first. With Darius Ramsey you won’t out work him on the field or as a student – you don’t get to come in contact with Darius Ramsey’s everyday. He is the total package,” says Beam.

As a concerned party in the decision making process Beam says he stressed to Ramsey the importance of “not taking chances on brain injuries.”

In viewing Ramsey as a son Beam also spoke on what Ramsey’s future means to him.

“I want to see him have a family of his own and raise his own children. I want to see him continue to go on to be the role model in the lives of those in his community. For Darius the sky is truly the limit.”

Not only does Ramsey still make an impact on those from his hometown, but also his teammates.

“Darius was an all-academic player on the team, and that showed me that football should never be an excuse for low grades. He is a very vocal leader in the locker room and on the field. Darius has impacted me to be the best I can be, because you never know when football can be taken away from you, like it did him,” said Catamount’s red-shirt freshman, Bobby Gibbs, Jr.

Although his time on the field sporting the number 20 is over, Ramsey is still playing a major roll with the WCU football program. He has taken on the role for the remainder of the season as a student assistant coach.

“I like what I am doing I am playing a mentor role now, trying to keep the boys up. I can’t play for them, but I can give them my experiences from things that I have been through. I am content with it.”

When asked if coaching football was something he saw in his future Ramsey responded with saying all his doors are wide open.

“I don’t know where God is going to lead me, but wherever God tells me to go is where I’ll go.”

The senior accounting major, carrying a 3.489 cumulative grade point average is set to graduate May, 2016 and has an internship to employment at Dixon Hughes Goodman LLC for the upcoming summer.