JACKSONVILLE – Midway through his introductory press conference with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jalen Ramsey shared a story from his time at Florida State. It was August 2013 and Ramsey, then a freshman sweating through his first collegiate practices, felt himself wearing down. “I tried to tap myself out,” Ramsey said. “I was gassed.”
But on his way to the sideline, a senior got in Ramsey’s way.
“And he was like, ‘Are you going to tap out in the game?’” Ramsey said. “I ran back in right away.”
That senior was Telvin Smith, the linebacker who went on to be drafted by Jacksonville in 2014, and who, along with fellow FSU alum Rashad Greene, stood in the back of the Jaguars’ locker room as Ramsey made his acquaintance with the local media.
Three years later, and it’s just like old times: Smith the veteran leader and Ramsey the talented newcomer. The Jaguars drafted Ramsey fifth overall on Thursday night, making him their third Seminole selected in as many seasons.
Asked how much he plans to lean on Smith as he transitions to the NFL, Ramsey answered: “A ton. That’s what I did when I went to Florida State.”
It’s hard to argue with that method. During their one season together, Smith, Greene and Ramsey were three of the driving forces on one of college football’s most dominant teams.
The 2013 Seminoles set records on offense and defense on their way to the program’s third national championship.
“We’re going to try to get more rings. That’s what it’s about,” Ramsey said. “We’re going to push each other like we did at Florida State. We’re going to push each other every day. I know Telvin is going to push me, I’m going to push him.
“And I know me and Rashad are going to go against each other in practice, make each other better, make each other great like we did at Florida State.”
Smith and Greene are thrilled – if not a little surprised – to have Ramsey in the fold.
Each said they kept an eye on Thursday’s first round, but figured that Ramsey would be long gone by the time the Jaguars picked at No. 5.
Then San Diego surprised by drafting defensive end Joey Bosa. And Dallas made even bigger waves by passing over Ramsey for running back Ezekiel Elliott.
All of a sudden, the Florida State reunion became a reality.
“I was ecstatic,” Smith said. “I would’ve been a little upset (had Jacksonville not picked Ramsey). I would’ve had to call (Jacksonville coach) Gus (Bradley) … and I wouldn’t be smiling as much right now.”
But the Jaguars wasted no time drafting Ramsey, and Smith was all smiles on Friday afternoon.
“We talk about toughness. We talk about grit. We talk about that relentless effort,” Smith said. “And he’s got that. I’m not just talking about it. I’ve seen it.”
Once they saw the pick, Smith and Greene said they felt it was important to welcome Ramsey and show their support as soon as possible.
So they watched and smiled from the back of the room, allowing Ramsey his moment in the spotlight while still letting him know they were there.
“This is his day, this is his time, him and his family,” Greene said. “And it means the world to me to have him on board. … He can come in and feel that he’s at home.”
Consider the message received. Asked what it meant to see Greene and Smith in attendance, Ramsey smiled and said, “They’re my dudes.”
He then launched into something of a public love letter to FSU.
“Florida State means so much to me,” Ramsey said. “They helped me develop as a man, as a player. I can’t imagine my life without Florida State. I can’t imagine going anywhere else. I never want to think about what my life would’ve been like going to a different university than Florida State.
“We breed winners, competitors. And I’m just more than grateful and happy that I was a part of that university.”
The next step, Ramsey said, is to match FSU’s success in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, but appear to be trending in the right direction under fourth-year coach Gus Bradley.
“We’re bringing the Florida State mentality here. The winning mentality,” Ramsey said. “Jacksonville is an organization on the rise and I think everybody knows that.
“We’re going to continue to strive, day in and day out, to make Jacksonville that team.”