There were plenty of ups and downs over the course of Peyton Ramsey's collegiate career, but the 23-year-old quarterback ended it on an extremely high note.
Ramsey began his career at Indiana, where he threw for 6,581 yards and 42 touchdowns. After spending several years with the Hoosiers, he transferred to the Northwestern Wildcats for his final season.
It was a smooth transition for Ramsey, who finished this past season with 1,733 passing yards and 12 touchdowns. His final game at Northwestern was arguably the best performance of his career thus far, as he completed 24-of-35 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns.
Following the win over Auburn in the Citrus Bowl, Ramsey informed his coaching staff that he would not used his sixth year of eligibility. Instead, the Ohio native will spend the next few months preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft.
We sat down with Peyton Ramsey to discuss his final season of college football, the future of Northwestern's football team, if we'll see Pat Fitzgerald in the NFL anytime soon, and much more.
The Spun: Why did you feel like now was the right time to go pro?
Peyton Ramsey: I think I was ready. I played a lot of college football. It wasn't like I was a guy who was there for one or two years, I played for four years - on and off at times. I don't regret anything. I put my best foot forward for years and really did the little things right. I just felt like it was the right time and I'm excited to get this thing going.
The Spun: Northwestern had a magical season in 2020. What do you think the future holds for that program in terms of Big Ten title contention?
PR: I'm excited for them. When you're as well-coached as you are like Northwestern - starting from the top down with Coach Fitz - I'm super excited because I know how good they can be. They lose a lot of talent since a lot of us decided we're going to try and make it happen at the next level, but there are some really good young players on that program. Like I said before, they're well-coached and have a special culture. So, I'm definitely excited about their future.
The Spun: Looking back at the Big Ten Championship, do you feel like Ohio State was the better team or you guys just had a few miscues down the stretch?
PR: Obviously they're extremely talented and a really good football team, so you need to play your best game. You alluded to it there about the miscues. We had opportunities all game long, whether it was a turnover here or a missed third-down conversion there. Unfortunately there were so many plays where you could go back and say 'Wow, if we executed here, we might have won that game.' Those plays will haunt you, but it is what it is. You just need to be able to move forward.
The Spun: Pat Fitzgerald has been linked to a few NFL jobs over the past few years. Do you think he'd be a good coach in the NFL, or is he better suited for college?
PR: I do believe if that was the route he decided to go and coach in the NFL, he would have success. He really does treat us like professionals and allows the leaders of the team to be the guys in charge. I do know that he loves Northwestern, and obviously it's his alma mater. I don't see many opportunities that would pull him away from Northwestern, but if he decides to do that in the future I think he'd have a lot of success.
The Spun: What's the biggest difference between Tom Allen and Pat Fitzgerald?
PR: It's pretty evident that Coach Allen on game day is very fiery and passionate, and you can see that he lets his emotions go on the sidelines. There are a lot of guys that love and respect that. Then, you have Coach Fitz, who is as composed and poised of a leader that I've ever been around. That doesn't mean he doesn't show emotion, but he just stays so calm and levelheaded. As a quarterback, I really enjoy that and appreciate how he carries himself on the sidelines. Two great coaches, but they have different styles.
The Spun: You finished your career with an impressive performance against Auburn. What do you think you showed scouts in that game?
PR: Not to get too technical here, but they played a lot of man coverage and we were able to put the ball in spots they couldn't defend. That was a big thing for me, but I also showed I can get out of the pocket and make plays happen with my legs - something that is becoming more evident in the NFL today. I was really happy with those two things for sure.
The Spun: Which quarterback do you watch on tape the most?
PR: I would say Russell Wilson is my main guy. You listen to him talk and you hear about the preparation aspect, so I really enjoy that. When you watch him, he's so elusive and makes great decisions both inside and outside of the pocket. There really isn't a flaw to his game. He continues to get better each year, and I really appreciate how he carries himself off the field. So, Russell Wilson is definitely my guy.
The Spun: What should the college football world expect from Northwestern in 2021?
PR: I definitely think they have the pieces to go out and have another awesome year. Hopefully they can make it back to the Big Ten Championship. Like I said, they are well-coached and the buy-in from the players is off the charts. Those intangibles are the type of things that can carry you to a Big Ten West Championship.
The Spun: Michael Penix went down with another injury this past season. What are your thoughts on his future?
PR: Mike is an awesome dude, both as a player and person. This isn't the first time he's had to battle from injury. Unfortunately in each of his three years he's had to battle through something. He has come back strong each and every time, though. It's a matter of staying healthy for him, and I hope he can do that. We all saw how special that he can be. He's an awesome player and one of the most talented guys I've played with in terms of natural arm talent. He's an awesome player and if he can stay healthy he's going to be really, really good.
The Spun: What will go down as your favorite college football memory?
PR: That's a hard one. Obviously going to the Big Ten Championship is one of them, even though we lost the game. Just walking into Lucas Oil Stadium is something I've dreamed about for so long. But another memory for me was all the way back in 2017. It was the second game of the year and I came in against Virginia. It was the first action I ever had and we ended up beating them. It was the first time ever stepping on the field and I was filling in for an injured quarterback. I think about how young and inexperienced I was at the time, so to be able to get the win during that time made it special for me.
It'll be tough for the Wildcats to replace Peyton Ramsey, but the program did recently land a commitment from Ryan Hilinksi. Perhaps he'll be the next transfer to shine in Pat Fitzgerald's scheme.
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