Thursday, March 26, 2009

Q&A: Ramses Barden, WR, Cal-Poly

Interview with Cal-Poly wide receiver Ramses Barden on All Access Football Radio's Monday Night Lights Show with host Rick Serritella.

How are you, Ramses?

I’m pretty good, I’m pretty good. Glad to be on. Thanks for having me.

You are a player that we have been talking about, believe it or not, for the last two years. Our small school insider Josh Buchanan has been keeping tabs on you for quite some time. He had you projected as his number one player on his overall big board coming into the start of the season, and you have done nothing but prove him right thus far. We appreciate you taking some time out of your busy schedule leading up to the Draft. Part of that schedule seems like it will include you joining Mark Sanchez at USC's Pro Day. Tell us a little bit about that.

Oh yeah, Mark is down here in Orange County working out with some teammates of mine. I guess they got to talking and there is not too many Draft-eligible receivers in California, let alone Southern California. So they spoke and he knew who I was and his family and his agent all knew who I was. They got to talking and since I’m so close, it would make sense for me to workout at their Pro Day and give him an extra set of hands to catch the ball. It will also be a good opportunity for me as well. So we spoke a couple times on the phone and it worked out so that I could come down here to Orange County and stay with him a couple of weeks. We work on our chemistry. He’ll be my honorary quarterback and I’ll be his honorary receiver. Then just go and build from there.

Well, USC is the Pro Day of all Pro Days. I know all 32 teams were in attendance today at Wake Forest's Pro Day. So I would have to imagine all 32 teams will be in attendance for the USC Pro Day on April 1st. Tell us what it’s like to be on the big stage coming from a small school? What does working out on that kind of platform do for your exposure?

It’s an outstanding experience, first of all. I’m extremely grateful for it. Coming from the small school and being like the underdog in this whole process and being able to gain the opportunity and exposure of such a great platform...One thing I will say is that the Senior Bowl, Combine and State Farm ESPN Skills Challenge were all events that have helped prime me for this transition to the NFL. Getting used to the media spotlight, getting used to the eyes on you and just the heightened, intense atmosphere that comes along with professional football...So I like to think I got a little bit of ammunition and momentum going into my USC Pro Day. Also, the private workouts won’t be so nerve-racking as it would have been if I didn’t have the opportunity to work out in those events.

You mentioned the Senior Bowl. Let’s touch base on that for a moment. Because, let’s be honest, the guys you were facing during the regular season couldn’t match up with you. At the Senior Bowl you really got that opportunity, that chance to match your skill set with other top players from the nation. Talk a little bit about that experience and how your skills matched up during the week of Senior Bowl practices.

As far as my skill set, I think I fared extremely well. There are certain things that you see when you watch tape of me or see me in person and you say, “Wow, this guy does those things well”. With the right coaching and the right attention at the right time you could say the opportunities are limitless. Something you always say about a player like me is “He's got the upside”. Those are some of the things that I have continued to hear during this whole process because of the physical tools I bring to the table. With the height, weight, speed combination the athletic ability...the willingness and desire to learn and be coachable—all of that kind of comes into play to where I can only go up and only move forward. The Senior Bowl was definitely a learning experience. Playing the best of the best each snap. At Cal Poly we might get a guy that’s worthy of an All Star game once every ten to fifteen games. So you're not even guaranteed to get a great corner every year. We have seen some talented people and the difference is that every snap, every play is that you're going against one of the best. So it’s definitely a little bit of a wake up call. I don’t know if I played as well I would of liked that week, but I definitely showed them that I have the abilities to be that number one receiver in the draft.

We're talking with Ramses Barden, the big receiver out of Cal Poly, standing around 6’5 and 225. Tell us what you looked to project at your Pro Day?

Officially, I'm 6’6 and 229. We had the San Jose Pro Day this past week and I had some scouts clock me in the 4.4’s. The official time they came out with was a 4.51, so I’m not upset about it but I always feel that I could do better. So I am definitely happy that I’m continuing to surpass expectations. Like I said with the height, weight, speed thing. I don’t think there are that many people who can have those same type of numbers on the board. I like to think I’m unique in that way and that I have limitless opportunities in that same fashion.

We actually had one of our representatives on location at the San Jose Pro Day, Andrew Garda. He went on to say that when you blazed your 40 time, he looked over at some of the NFL personal in attendance. He said there were some raised eyebrows over there on the sideline. So I must ask, was there any particular scout that showed interest in you, or do you have any individual workouts scheduled with any teams?

Throughout this whole process there have been a number of teams that have shown a fair amount of interest. I’m definitely excited. At the Pro Day it was all work and all business just trying to get through the drills, get through the workout. It wasn’t just me but it was my teammates as well, as well as guys from other schools. As far as strong interest, I really wasn’t paying attention to it. I was letting my agent handle that. Through the process we have talked a lot with the Cowboys, the Giants, with Tampa with Miami, the Ravens...There’s definitely a number of teams, I guess, that are looking for wide receivers that have shown a strong interest in me. So I’m really excited about that. And I’m excited to continue to show them that I’m the kind of player and person that they want on their team. The next couple of weeks me and Mark (Sanchez) are doing a private workout with the Jets, I think tomorrow. Then the following day the Redskins.

In addition to the USC Pro Day you're going to be working out with Mark in some of the individual team workouts as well?

Yes, sir. I’ll be on the field. I’ll be running my routes. I’ll be trying to show the progression and continue the learning that translates into me being the first round guy that teams would want to take.

Well that’s phenomenal. I would have to admit I have my questions with Mark as an NFL quarterback. But to hear of him going out of his way almost to include you in workouts at his USC Pro Day shows me the type of character and leadership skills that Mark Sanchez is displaying. Can you maybe spend a moment and tell us about Mark Sanchez?

Oh sure, I could spend more then a moment. He reached out and has shown he’s an outstanding person, he’s a quality guy. He’s introduced me to his family, his dad, his brother, and you can see what type of background this guy comes from. There’s no wonder that Pete Carroll wanted to keep him around another year. He’s a hard guy to let go of and I see why so many teams right now are chomping at the bit to get a opportunity to get their hands on him. Because he brings so much to the table—his leadership, his football intelligence, his street smarts...I have to give him kudos for coming and finding the best wide receiver in California (laughs) to come workout with him.

I like the attitude and I like the approach. You kind of remind me, in more ways than one, of another wide receiver from out there in California named Keyshawn Johnson.

Uh-oh. (laughs)

How many times have players busted your chops on the head shots you've got going on there, with you looking like Keyshawn’s twin brother?

I hear that every day. I saw a article out the other day comparing us and everything. I think it even had a couple of sound bites in there. I don’t know if I’m on his radar yet. I don’t want to make him too mad. I know he’s got a strong personality and he’s a great person from what I’ve heard. Like I said, any positive comparisons I can get with Hall of Fame-type guys, I’ll take them. Back to Mark—he’s great person and he’s a great guy. He let me into his home and he’s just a class act.

The NFL Draft Bible has 6’6 and 229 pound Ramses Barden, wide receiver from Cal Poly on the line. Now we're going to have a little bit of fun, Ramses. We're going to welcome in our small school insider, Josh Buchanan. Josh, welcome to the show.

(Laughs) I don’t like the response I got from Ramses.

Barden: It’s like a reunion. Sometimes when I talk with Josh, I don’t know what time I'm going to be hanging up the phone. (Laughs)


No, Josh is a good guy.

Buchanan: I think his stock is falling. (Laughs)

Barden: Josh is my man. I always tell him everything.

Tell us about your training program.

Like you said, we have been working on the 40 stuff and the agility stuff. When it comes to the field, Elite Athletics was able to pair me up with a guy named Chris Thomas who is a Cal-Poly alum. He was in the league for several years and although he wasn’t a household name, he was able to stay in the league as a back up and change of pace guy because of how precise his routes were and how much time and effort he put into breaking guys down one on one. He’s not the type of guy who's going to jump all over you or beat you or run a 4.2 like my guy Nick Miller. But he’s somebody who has the best pair of feet. If you ever get a chance to watch and see him, he runs great routes and he’s a great teacher. He’s a guy I’ve been able to get together with and he’s showed me some of those tricks. Things to add to my game to help me get out of my routes quicker and those are some of those things I’ve been trying to add to my game.

Who on your team is not getting the press that should be getting looks?

First guy is my roommate, Tredale Tover, who has been my roommate for the last four years. He’s the other receiver on the other side. He’s the reason why it’s so hard to line up against us on defense because the guy can pretty much run a 4.3 or 4.2 when he’s in the zone. He showed that a couple days ago at the San Diego State Pro Day. A couple of people had him at 4.29 and that didn’t really surprise me. I was surprised he didn’t run that at San Jose State, to be honest with you, because that’s what he is—he's a speed guy, a track guy. He’s been doing this longer than I have and he had more offers coming out of school. He’s really a big talent that hasn’t been tapped yet. I got a lot of attention in the offense but as more people start to learn his name, they are going to be surprised.

Yeah I remember you mentioning his name. Talk a little about your game vs. Wisconsin?

Our coach, Rich Ellison, scheduled the Wisconsin game and that just shows his competitiveness. We have a competitive team. We all kind of rose to the challenge and accepted it. We didn’t come out with the victory though, but there were a number of opportunities to change the outcome of the game. I’ll be the first person to say I could of done more and maybe made a play here or there that could have made a difference. As a team I thought we played with outstanding effort, myself included. It’s was a great primer for the Senior Bowl, but playing against the high level, we wanted to pull a major upset.

Good luck, and thanks for joining us.

Josh needs an anchor position on the show. (laughs)

Photo Credit: Matt Brown Photography, Great West Office