Wisconsin junior offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk has surprised the Big Ten this season by becoming one of the Badgers’ premier offensive linemen.
He’s even expected to get selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, according to a Sports Illustrated NFL mock draft from late October. However, he initially didn’t think football was meant for him.
According to an article by ESPN, Ramczyk almost went into a career in welding rather than playing football at Wisconsin.
Coming out of Stevens Point Area Senior High School in Wisconsin, Ramczyk was recruited by then-Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. But when he left Wisconsin to take the head coaching job at the University of Pittsburgh, Chryst tried to bring Ramczyk to Pitt.
Ramczyk, judging Pitt to be too far away from home, declined the scholarship and signed with Division II Winona State. However, he never played a down for Winona State, instead transferring to Madison Area Technical College and then Mid-State Technical College in Stevens Point, attending one semester at each school.
His father then suggested he look into a career in welding, as football seemed to not be in Ramczyk’s future. Ramczyk opted to return to football at Division III University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Then opportunity knocked for Ramczyk, who had been playing football at Wisconsin-Stevens Point at a high level for two seasons when Chryst took the head coaching position at Wisconsin in late 2014.
Ramczyk transferred to Wisconsin in 2015 and, after sitting out for a season because of transfer rules, has become one of the nation’s highest graded offensive linemen and has led the Badgers to one of the most-improved Big Ten rushing attacks. Now, Ramczyk will face another decision come this spring: leave Wisconsin early for the NFL or stay with the Badgers for his senior season.