- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 21, 2002

Tulane quarterback Patrick Ramsey used his head to soar in the NFL Draft not by thinking quickly on the field but by working quickly in the classroom and finishing off his degree in December.
His graduation cum laude in a double major of accounting and finance allowed him to focus totally on preparing himself for this weekend's NFL Draft during a time when he might have been wrapping up an impressive academic career.
Two experts, one in fitness and one in quarterbacking technique, oversaw Ramsey's draft preparation in New Orleans. His performance at the Senior Bowl, where he was named Most Valuable Player, and at the NFL Scouting Combine cemented his status as the third-best available quarterback, behind Fresno State's David Carr (the No.1 overall selection) and Oregon's Joey Harrington (No.3).
To Ramsey, the Washington Redskins' top pick yesterday at No.32, it all comes back to having completed school.
"It was so important," he said in a conference call. "It was an integral part of being able to become what I am at this point. I don't think when I graduated college I was a first-round draft pick. But because of the fact that I worked so hard and had the right people around me, I feel like that's what made me a first-round draft pick."
Many top prospects, of course, simply cut short their studies in order to focus on draft preparation. But there clearly is a higher standard for Ramsey, a five-time selection to the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll.
Now his capable mind will be asked to absorb the playbook of Redskins coach Steve Spurrier, a task he is eager to begin. In fact, during the St. Louis Rams' pick at No.31, ESPN commentators suggested that Ramsey would fit well with the defending NFC champions. Ramsey, who had eaten dinner with Redskins owner Dan Snyder but heard Washington was leaning away from him, "got scared" he would be picked by St. Louis.
"I don't know what it is about the Redskins that interests me or entices me so much, but it is a team that I want to play for," Ramsey said. "I have a job regardless. I have to play quarterback to the best of my ability. But playing for the Redskins will be so much more rewarding and enjoyable, because I think it's going to be a fun offense."
Ramsey becomes the club's quarterback of the future, and his work over the next few months will determine just how quickly that future begins. Washington has no incumbent starter or proven veteran behind center, having entered the draft with the trio of Danny Wuerffel, Sage Rosenfels and Dameyune Craig.
"I would love to be [the starter on opening day], but I have to go and learn this offense," Ramsey said. "I have to earn it. I don't want anything to be given to me because I'm a first-round draft pick. It's an open competition, and hopefully I can catch on quickly enough to play this year."
Spurrier confirmed that Ramsey will have a chance to start, but the coach characterized that scenario as no more likely than Rosenfels or Craig starting. He also would not say whether the selection of Ramsey ended the possibility of adding Chicago Bears reserve Shane Matthews. A former star under Spurrier at Florida, Matthews has been dangled by Chicago for months.
"We're planning on giving these four a really good look," Spurrier said. "We've got five exhibition games. We've got to get some experience in these players."
The postseason workouts that boosted Ramsey's draft stock so high now give him confidence that he can win the job. His work came with trainer Mackie Shilstone, who helped Ramsey drop from a stocky 232 pounds to a manageable 220, and former NFL quarterback and coach Zeke Bratkowski, who also tutored last year's No.1 overall pick, Michael Vick, last winter.
"[Shilstone] did a great job working with me on 'functional strength,' as far as being able to carry my weight very easily," Ramsey said. "[Bratkowski has] also done so much for me as far as the fundamentals of quarterback and how to throw the ball in certain situations what velocity and how much touch to put on certain balls. And he's also done a tremendous job of preparing me for life in the NFL."
Ramsey needed the extra work after an impressive but not overwhelming career at Tulane. He passed for a school-record 3,410 yards as a sophomore in 1999, surpassing Shaun King's mark, but the Green Wave went just 3-9 last season. He believes his slimmed-down frame should be a real asset as he moves forward.
"I'm happy where I am at this point, because you have to have a happy medium between being able to withstand the hits and being able to move well enough to get out of the way of them," Ramsey said.
Yesterday's selection continues a frenetic stretch for Ramsey, who got married last weekend and went on a brief honeymoon to the Florida Keys. Tomorrow he should be in Washington to sit down with Spurrier for the first time, and late in the week he will attend his first minicamp. It's a lot of work, but he's smart enough to know it's worth it.
"I couldn't be happier," he said. "I went in the first round to the very team I wanted to go to."

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