Very few players in the Havelock football dynasty have been as important in coach Jim Bob Bryant’s eyes as linebacker Andrew Ramirez.
“He was a three-year starter for us and a really good football player with a great work ethic,” he said. “I think he has Division-I talent, but his size hurts him a bit in the eyes of D-I schools. He’s fast, quick, reads blocks and makes tackles. He’s a heck of a football player.”
The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder led the Rams in tackles in his junior and senior years, both of which ended in 3A state championships. He posted 99 tackles as a junior and 161 last fall as a senior.
His success on the field has earned him a shot at continuing to play football in California for Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif.The school is roughly 30 minutes from Los Angeles where Ramirez has family.
“I’ve always wanted to get back out to California for college,” he said. “At the beginning of last season, my dad and I started contacting coaches at different schools out there. (Azusa’s) coach got back to me and we kept in touch throughout the season. At the end, he said he thought I would be a good fit for the program, offered me a chance to be a preferred walk-on and I took it.”
Players who are preferred walk-ons have a more legitimate shot at eventually earning an athletic scholarship, as opposed to a regular walk-on, who normally tries out and makes the team. Preferred walk-ons such as Ramirez are more often recruited to be on the roster.
Ramirez chose Azusa over an offer to play at Brevard College in the western part of the state.
“It just came down to family,” he said. “I would rather play out there with a lot of family close to me than be at Brevard with really no one around.”
Ramirez was the defensive most valuable player in Havelock’s 21-13 victory over Concord in last season’s state championship game, recording 19 tackles and recovering a fumble.
Azusa Pacific is a Christian College and currently a part of the National Christian College Athletic Association. However, the school is in the second year of a three-year path to become a NCAA Division II school.
The Cougars were 10-2 last season after going 4-7 in 2012.
“I’m just first thankful to God for this opportunity that not every kid in my situation gets,” Ramirez said. “I am going to go there and work hard in the classroom, weightroom and on the field to earn that scholarship.”
Jordan Honeycutt is a reporter for the Sun Journal.