Unsung Local Star Drawing Raves
By Jim Wexell
Posted Feb 27, 2014
Kaleb Ramsey's an unsung but well-respected defensive end from Uniontown, by way of Boston College.
One of the unsung stars of the NFL Combine this past week was a little-known linebacker from Boston College named Kevin Pierre-Louis.
But even Pierre-Louis was in awe of someone else at the combine, a B.C. teammate of his from Uniontown named Kaleb Ramsey.
Pierre-Louis looked up with wide eyes when Ramsey's name was mentioned.
"He. Is. A. Monster," Pierre-Louis told the surprised reporter.
The reporter asked why.
"He just excels," Pierre-Louis said. "Him being a hundred percent healthy, he just kills everyone that's in front of him. I've seen him do things to offensive linemen that you never see, I mean, literally throwing a guy in the air parallel to the ground. He's an amazing athlete.
"He's going to surprise people," Pierre-Louis added. "He definitely is. Unfortunately he's faced a little bit of injuries in his college career, which have put him under the radar, but in my own opinion he's first-round talent."
Ramsey, of course, is the former all-state basketball and football player from Laurel Highlands High School. He just completed a sixth year of eligibility at Boston College as an interior defensive lineman, and that sixth year was courtesy of a medical hardship after shoulder surgery and some nagging soft-tissue problems with a calf muscle and plantar fasciitis virtually wiped out his 2011 and 2012 seasons.
But Ramsey finished the 2013 season healthy, checked into the combine at 6 feet 3, 293 pounds, and led all defensive players with 36 bench reps of 225 pounds. Only one player at the entire combine topped Ramsey in the weight room -- offensive lineman Russell Bodine of North Carolina did 42 reps.
The performance on the bench not only showed off Ramsey's strength, it showed the doctors that his shoulders are sound.
"At one time I was highly scouted," said Ramsey. "I was thought of as a second or third-rounder. Getting hurt caused me to kind of fall off the draft board and fade away. But I kind of like it like this. There's no pressure. Whatever happens happens. That's the way I like it."
After Ramsey was poked and pulled by some 50 doctors at the combine, and spent four hours taking three different MRI examinations, he got down to the business of talking football with more than 20 teams. One of those was the Steelers. Ramsey met with Steelers defensive line and assistant head coach John Mitchell.
"It went well," Ramsey said. "He just asked me some basic background questions and kind of felt me out. He was trying to pick my brain about football a little bit, and I felt it went well."
Is Ramsey still a fan?
"I was born and raised a Steelers fan," he said. "I figure I'll always be a fan. But right now any team that picks me I'm beholden to. If it's the Steelers, that would be a dream come true."
Ramsey, of course, would play 3-4 defensive end with the Steelers. He did some of that his last year at Boston College.
"I enjoyed two-gapping," he said of a style of play that's similar to what the Steelers' defensive linemen do. "I liked it a lot. The whole defense this past season I enjoyed a lot. It allowed for us as a a defense overall to make more plays. It kind of opened us up to different philosophies, which I think will prepare me for the next level."
Ramsey looks back fondly on his high school days, particularly the basketball part of it. But he went off to Boston College in 2008 and became a full-time starter in 2010. That was his breakout year. He led the BC defensive linemen with 39 tackles and had 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
"I thought I grew into the position that year," he said. "They moved me from defensive end to inside my sophomore year and in my junior year I figured it out. I got bigger and stronger and more physical. At that time our defense as a whole was very good. We were veteran laden. I had (Luke) Kuechly behind me. It made everything easier. He was an awesome player. He was an animal. He was like a coach on the field. He knew where the play was going to go before it even happened. It was amazing on tape how fast he moved from sideline to sideline. We also had a very good defensive front that year. That made the job a lot easier."
If not for the injuries, Ramsey just might have a pro year or two under his belt.
"He's truly a beast," said Boston College defensive end Kasim Edbali. "With his physical strength, there's nobody who can stop him. When he's healthy he's unstoppable."
The doctors told Ramsey that his shoulders are sound, and that's the important news. He figures the draft board will just fall into place.
"I haven't really talked to anyone about the round," he said. "They say it will depend on my health, and I feel with me doing the bench press I answered questions about my health. I have my pro day coming up March 12th, when I'm going to run and do all the drills. I feel I can answer everyone's questions about how healthy I am and my athletic ability. Once I display that I feel a lot of questions will be answered. Then it will be up to them."
Even if Ramsey's not drafted, he's a virtual lock to go to camp with a team and get his chance. "I believe so, God willing," he said. "I'm praying to get drafted. If that's not the case I think I definitely have a shot. I was highly touted at one time. I'm still a talented football player. I've just had some bad luck happen. It hasn't taken anything away from my game at all."