STILLWATER — Dominic Ramacher has made a football life out of position switches.
He was J.W. Walsh's backup quarterback as a junior at Denton (Texas) Guyer High School. He starred as a linebacker his senior year. In between, he played some tight end. And some H-back. And some receiver.
So it shouldn't seem all that strange that Ramacher asked to make another change in the middle of fall camp during his redshirt freshman season at Oklahoma State. And he got his wish, transitioning from fullback back to linebacker last week.
“My whole life, I've had the defensive mindset and the instincts,” Ramacher said. “Just everything about me has been for defense … I just thought the best thing for me is I'm a linebacker at heart and I should try to pursue that.”
Ramacher was appropriately categorized as an “athlete” during the 2012 recruiting year. And he was considered one of the gems of OSU's class, with a four-star rating from Rivals and a spot in the ESPNU 150.
His first season on campus, coaches believed he could help most at another new position — fullback. That was a physical adjustment for Ramacher, who is a bit taller and leaner than the prototypical fullback when he arrived in Stillwater at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds.
“The guys in the trenches are pretty big and tough to move,” Ramacher said.
With Kye Staley and Jeremy Seaton both returning in 2013, plus an internal desire to get back to the defensive side of the ball, Ramacher first approached running backs coach Jemal Singleton about making a switch. Then he met with defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, who also coaches the linebackers. Finally, Spencer went to head coach Mike Gundy for the final sign-off.
By last Thursday, Ramacher was on the practice field with the linebackers and sporting a new number, 36.
“It was a lot smoother than I thought it would be,” Ramacher said. “Of course (I was nervous to ask). Coach Spencer, he's a stern guy.”
And Spencer is honest when projecting that it will be difficult for Ramacher to see much playing time on defense in 2013, particularly at a “STAR” linebacker spot that returns preseason All-Big 12 selection Shaun Lewis, underrated veteran Joe Mitchell and promising youngster Seth Jacobs.
“He's young,” Spencer said of Ramacher. “He doesn't know anything going on there right now, so it's going to be a long process with him. We'll just kind of let him soak (it all in), let him run the scout team over there and see how he develops physically and mentally at that position over the next year or so.”
Ramacher also recognizes he has much to learn and understands he needs to be patient before seeing the field. But he's already had a moment where he felt quite comfortable in his new — or old — position.
During last Saturday's scrimmage, Ramacher got on the field late. And on the final play, he got to the quarterback for a simulated sack.
“I'm back,” Ramacher thought to himself. “I feel it. I feel really good.”