Eastern Michigan EDGE Jose Ramirez was one of the most productive players in college football in 2022, as the 6’1, 249-pound grad student tallied 66 total tackles, including 19.5 for a loss and 12 sacks. Ramirez is from the same program as current Las Vegas Raiders EDGE Maxx Crosby, and in an interview with Steelers Depot at the Shrine Bowl, Ramirez talked about learning from Crosby along with his collegiate journey, which included stops at three different schools.
Ramirez was originally a three-star prospect from Florida who committed to play at Arizona under Rich Rodriguez. At the end of his freshman year though, the coaching staff, including Rodriguez, was let go, and Ramirez transferred. Ramirez ended up transferring to Riverside Community College in Riverside, California.
“We had a conversation and it wasn’t a good fit for me,” Ramirez said about transferring after Kevin Sumlin was hired at Arizona. “So I end up JUCO, and this is before the transfer portal in 2018, so if I went to another school, I would’ve had to sit out a year. So I was like, I wanna play football. So I ended up taking the JUCO route and I got there, man, helped me build my faith while I was there.”
Ramirez said Eastern Michigan was the first opportunity to come after his year at Riverside, where he notched 44 tackles, eight sacks, and a forced fumble. Ramirez appeared in all six of EMU’s games during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, finishing with 27 tackles and two sacks. In 2021, he had his breakout year, being named Third Team All-MAC after a 6.5 sack season that included 11 tackles for a loss and 62 tackles. He was named a captain prior to his senior year.
“It meant a lot, cause coming from your teammates is different than coming from coaches,” Ramirez said about being voted a captain by his peers. “At the end of the day, a coach, he only sees what he sees with you at the facility, things like that. But as players, we get to see the locker room, class, different stuff.”
While captains usually go out for the coin toss, during his senior year, there were games where Ramirez would stay back and let one of his teammates join the other three captains for the coin toss.
“I feel like the teammates that went up there, they earned it. I was also in a position like them where I wasn’t a captain,” Ramirez said. “I just wanna show them, just they helped this team too.”
When looking at Ramirez’s career stats at EMU next to Crosby’s, they’re strikingly similar. Ramirez finished his career with 155 total tackles, 33 tackles for a loss, and 20.5 sacks, along with five forced fumbles and seven pass deflections. Crosby finished his career as an Eagles with 162 total tackles, 41 tackles for a loss, 20 sacks, four pass deflections, and eight forced fumbles.
During Day 4 of Shrine Bowl practices, Crosby was in attendance to watch Ramirez and the rest of the defensive line/EDGE group. Ramirez also talked about modeling his game after Crosby’s.
“I done talked to him, just chopped it up, on Instagram, just calling and stuff like that,” Ramirez said about talking to Crosby. “I model my game after him cause when you look at Maxx and you see him play, you just see the passion in him and the love of football and you see the love of football and it’s just like true football when you see him play.”
Outside of Crosby, Ramirez said he watched a lot of tape of Los Angeles Chargers EDGE Khalil Mack and Buffalo Bills EDGE Von Miller.
One thing that stands out from both Crosby and Ramirez’s stats are the number of forced fumbles they both had during their college career. Ramirez talked about his philosophy and the EMU coaching staff’s philosophy and forcing fumbles.
“My main thing is go after the ball and I feel like getting the ball is a sack. And that’s a game-changing play. My coaches always say a sack is an atta boy, a strip sack is a game-changer. And I love that. It just sticks in my mind everytime I get to the quarterback, what’s the point of hitting him hard if they can get the ball on second and 10 and throw a touchdown. But if I hit him and get that ball out, then it’s a whole different game.”
Despite his individual accomplishments, Ramirez says his ultimate goal is winning regardless of how he plays.
“If I get ten sacks one game, I might break a NCAA record, but if we don’t win, we didn’t accomplish nothing that day,” Ramirez said. “I feel like all the accolades and everything, I’ll take it all back for a MAC Championship.”
One of the biggest accolades Ramirez has is being named the 2022 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, but he said getting a win over San Jose State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl meant more than his individual accolade.
Ramirez says he wants to show NFL teams what they’re getting in him.
“At the end of the day, they gonna get a game-changer, somebody who’s dedicated to the game, somebody who loves the game more than, shoot, a lot of people.”
Ramirez, who will participate in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in April, has met with the Steelers during Shrine Bowl Week.
“It’d be a blessing to be there,” Ramirez said about playing in Pittsburgh.
For a team that needs depth off the edge behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, they could do a whole lot worse than grabbing someone like Ramirez in the middle rounds. With his mindset and college production, he could be someone who could see some immediate snaps but also be a really nice piece to develop as the team’s third or fourth edge rusher on the depth chart.