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Hoosiers remain confident in Ramsey despite changes at QB position



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Then-freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey throws the ball during IU's game against Michigan on Oct. 14 at Memorial Stadium. Ramsey was named IU's starting quarterback for 2018 on Aug. 23. Katie Franke Buy Photos

Peyton Ramsey had an important phone call to make last week.

The sophomore quarterback needed to reach his father, Doug Ramsey, with some of the biggest news of his IU football career.

But when Peyton Ramsey tried calling him, he got nothing but the sound of silence and his father's voicemail on the other line. 

He became a voicemail vagabond, boiling over with anticipation, only intensified by virtue of his father's unattended cell phone.

Doug Ramsey, who was also Peyton's high school football coach at Cincinnati Elder High School, was in the middle of coaching practice, unable to answer his son's call.

However, Peyton Ramsey persisted and after calling one of Doug Ramsey's assistant coaches, finally reached his father to share the big news.

He had just been informed he had won the Hoosiers' starting quarterback position after a close competition this offseason between himself, senior Brandon Dawkins and true freshman Michael Penix Jr.

Ramsey, who earned his first career start last year for IU's mid-season contest against Charleston Southern on Oct. 7, has since made it a tradition to let his father be the first person to know of any starting news, making his most recent phone call even more special.

But IU Coach Tom Allen said Peyton Ramsey showed restrained jubilation when the decision was announced.

"He's a competitor," Allen said. "He's not real emotional. Even when I told him, he didn't get up and fist pump or anything. He was very calm."

After showing improvement in aspects of his game such as arm strength and confidence, Ramsey was able to beat out the the newer and possibly flashier options in Dawkins and Penix Jr. for a job he entered the competition as the incumbent front-runner.

It was a tight battle and Allen and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord even hinted at the idea of seeing all three players during stints throughout the season.

But things have gotten more complicated from there.

On Monday, Allen announced Dawkins, a graduate transfer from Arizona, would be leaving the program, while bumping freshman defensive back Reese Taylor into the position as another talented dual-threat option.

What seemed like a position firmly decided heading into the Hoosiers' season-opener at Florida International on Sept. 1, now seemed oddly in flux again.

However, Ramsey said he isn't thinking about the changes going on in the quarterback's room. He's just focusing on one thing that he sees as his strong suit — preparation for the team's competition ahead.

“I have played, and I know how to prepare," Ramsey said. "I know what to look for when I’m watching film, so that way, the game slows down just a little bit more for me.” 

Despite IU's quarterback situation seemingly being flipped upside down, Ramsey's coaches and teammates are still showing plenty of confidence in him.

After working extensively with new athletic performance coach Dr. Matt Rhea this offseason, Ramsey thinks the fruits of his labor are starting to show.

“I had talked to Doc (Rhea) when he first got here because he had told me about his past and experience in working with quarterbacks,” Ramsey said. “I talked to him about arm strength and we were kind of on the same page. We got a plan going in the summer right away in June right when we got back, so I was working all the way through the summer on that.”

One major upgrade that many have noticed in Ramsey's arsenal is his arm strength. Ramsey said he and Rhea worked through an arm-strengthening program that featured a mixture of both rotational and core workouts.

Senior wide receiver Luke Timian, a consistent recipient of Ramsey's rifles, has noticed the improvement, especially on deeper, longer throws.

“I just think he was a little hesitant last year,” Timian said. “Playing as a freshman, that’s tough, especially at that position. Going into his second year, he’s more confident in making those throws, so you just see it more consistently. He’s not thinking that much, he’s just letting the game come to him.”

Even on the defensive side of the ball, Ramsey's teammates have been impressed. Sophomore defensive back Marcelino Ball said Ramsey's decision-making has made huge progress compared to what it was after being thrown into the fire a bit last season.

“I can tell when he wants to go somewhere, so I jump it, then he’ll pump fake it and throw somewhere else,” Ball said. “For him to pump fake it and go somewhere else with the ball is showing he’s more mature on making decisions.”

Ramsey said he sees all the strides he's made as a player this offseason as big reasons why he won the starting job. 

One piece of simple, yet effective advice he received from his father still stands out as being particularly helpful while battling for that spot — go out and compete every day and don't compare yourself to anybody else.

Now, with fellow quarterbacks filing in and out of the depth chart behind him, that advice proves even more important than before. 

It's what Ramsey knows he can do, not what other options still on the roster or not, that could prove vital for both his confidence and the team's as the 2018 season quickly approaches.

“You can’t control what anybody else is doing,” Ramsey said. “Just go compete, put your head down, go to work every single day and just by nature, if you’re doing the work, you’re going to get better.”

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