Senior special teams standout takes unconventional road to EWU record books
By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information
Who said you needed to play defense to break a traditionally defensive record?
Wide receiver Nicholas Ramos, a senior on the Eastern Washington University football team, tied the record for the most fumble recoveries in school history on Sept. 19 in EWU's 16-0 victory over Northern Colorado. His fumble recovery marked his eighth as an Eagle, tying former defensive end Steve Mattson (1994-97).
Ramos, from Winters, Calif., has a knack for being in the right place at the right time on special teams as a gunner on kickoff and punt teams. He is no slouch on the other side of special teams, as he is also on the top 10 all-time career lists for kickoff return yards (ninth with 829) and average kickoff return yards (sixth with a 25.1 average per return).
Ramos earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors on special teams as a junior in 2008. Four of his fumble recoveries occurred as a sophomore in 2007 when he also averaged 27.8 yards per kickoff return to rank sixth in school history. Eastern finished 9-4 that season and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
Ramos has gotten the most out of his 5-foot-8, 165-pound frame to play in 36 career games as an Eagle. However, he has also battled injuries to both shoulders in the past, and this season has already battled ailments to both knees, a hamstring and a pair of ribs.
"He plays hurt most of the time," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "He may be small by football standards, but he's as tough as they come. You know when he puts on his uniform he'll be ready to give everything he has and play hard."
The 14th-ranked Eagles are set to take on 21st-ranked Weber State this Saturday (Oct. 10) in a Big Sky Conference showdown at Woodward Field. Currently sitting at 4-1 overall (3-0 BSC), Eastern faces a solid challenge in the Wildcats, who shared the league title with Montana last season. Kickoff is set for 12:35 p.m.
Q: How does it feel to be tied for the most fumble recoveries in school history, despite not playing defense?
A: "It has been a great accomplishment for me. When I think about the accomplishment I don't think about the aspect of not playing defense. I consider myself a football player, and every time I get a chance to step onto that field I am going to give it everything I have and try to make plays."
Q: To what do you attribute the accomplishment to?
A: "I do not believe that I can attribute the accomplishment to any one aspect. I would not be where I am without my coaches coaching me and the support of my teammates on the field. A little good luck and being in the right place at the right time doesn't hurt either."
Q: You are also up there on some of the school career records lists for kickoff returns. What does that mean to you?
A: "I really enjoy playing football and every chance I get to be on that field I give it everything I have. I am very flattered to even be in the record book especially with some of the great players that have come through Eastern."
Q: How important is special teams in the grand scheme of things?
A: "The two most measurable statistics affecting the outcome of a football game are turnover ratio and field position. As a result, special teams have a huge effect on the game. Each time the ball is punted or kicked there is a great deal of yardage involved and a high risk of turnovers. Field position is the essence of football -- the further a team has to drive the ball, the less of a chance they have to score. Football is a game of inches and every inch counts. I take a lot of pride in special teams and every time I am on the field I see it as a chance for me to make a play."
Q: Who is your favorite NFL player and why?
A: "I would have to say that growing up my favorite football player has always been Deion Sanders. I was always impressed with his athletic ability and his leadership on the field. I always tried to play like Deion Sanders, especially on returning kicks."
Q: Favorite moment on the playing field?
A: "I have had a lot of memorable moments on the field, but I would have to say that my favorite moment would have to be my 82-yard kickoff return in the playoffs against Appalachian State in 2007. It was a very exciting moment for me, but I think the reason why it sticks in my head is because in that game we were so close to moving on in the playoffs. Appalachian State won the national championship that year and I do believe that we should have been playing in the national championship game."
Q: As a senior, what are you going to remember the most about your time with the EWU football program?
A: "When you're a senior in high school, and the time has come to make a decision on where to go to school, one of the biggest things you consider is ‘will you have a memorable experience?' Playing football at Eastern has been an experience filled with great memories. I would have to say that the biggest things I will remember are my coaches and teammates. We have a real special group and that is something that is very unique these days. Hopefully I will also remember a Big Sky championship and national championship from the 2009 season."
Q: You have at least six more games to own the fumble recoveries record all to yourself and knock Steve Mattson out of the tie. If you had to make a guess, what game will it happen on?
A: "Records are great, but at the end of the day it is just a note in a book. If the opportunity arises I will go after it with everything I have, but as of right now all I am thinking about is our next opponent and figuring out what we have to do to be victorious."