In crowded NU QB room, Ramsey trying to pull away from the pack

  • Then-Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey drops back to pass against EIU last season. Ramsey is now competing for the starting QB job at Northwestern.

    Then-Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey drops back to pass against EIU last season. Ramsey is now competing for the starting QB job at Northwestern. AP File Photo

Updated 9/28/2020 2:31 PM

It's getting even more crowded in the quarterback film room at Northwestern.

Seven quarterbacks are on the roster for Northwestern, which recently resumed full-time practice in light of the Big Ten's decision earlier this month to go ahead with a fall season instead of postponing until the Spring of 2021.


The Wildcats, whose season opener is scheduled for Oct. 24 against visiting Maryland at Ryan Field in Evanston, were already used to a bigger-than-usual rotation under center.

Last fall, during a frustrating 3-9 season, Northwestern used four different quarterbacks, with senior Aidan Smith and junior Hunter Johnson getting the most reps while junior Andrew Marty played in five games and graduate student TJ Green saw action in one game before getting hurt.

Now, there are three more quarterbacks in the mix, including freshmen Carl Richardson and Zac Krause. But the most intriguing new addition is graduate student Peyton Ramsey, who put together an impressive three-year career at Indiana.

In fact, Ramsey torched Northwestern last year, in a 34-3 win for the Hoosiers. After IU starter Michael Penix went down with a clavicle injury, Ramsey took over and went 7-for-10 for 108 yards and a touchdown.

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"This is a newer deal for me. At IU, there were two quarterbacks in the room one year, three another year," said Ramsey, a native of Cincinnati who graduated from Indiana in May. "It's kind of cool to have five, six, seven guys in the quarterback room, especially older guys, guys who have been around a bit, have some experience and are knowledgeable about a bunch of different things. It's been really good."

There have been no decisions made by the Northwestern coaching staff about a starter at quarterback, but Ramsey could be the front-runner.

Ramsey started most games over his first two seasons at Indiana but then lost the starting position to Penix at the start of 2019 before becoming the starter again after Penix got hurt.

Over his career in Bloomington, Ramsey rolled up 6,851 passing yards, the fourth-most in Indiana program history.

Ramsey was disappointed to lose his starting spot at Indiana last year, but had seen his father Doug Ramsey, a longtime high school coach at Cincinnati Elder High School, make tough personnel decisions many times.

So Ramsey kept his chin up and remained ready for action. And, it turned out that he was called on many times as Penix had several injury problems that forced him out of games before finally being lost for the season in the Northwestern game.


Ramsey helped Indiana to an eight-win season in 2019, playing in 11 total games and starting the final four.

"That was a hard thing, a very hard thing (for Peyton), not being named the starter at the beginning of the season," Doug Ramsey told SI Hoosiers Now last November. "But Peyton is an extremely mature person, and he's the ultimate team player. He's always been that way.

"That's why it doesn't surprise me at all that he has handled all of this so well and also remained prepared to play, because that's the way he is. As a father, nothing could make me happier than to see how he does things, and how much he cares for his team and his teammates."

Ramsey's new teammates seem to think pretty highly of him, too.

Former Libertyville star Riley Lees, a senior and Northwestern's leading returning receiver from 2019, hosted Ramsey on his visit to Northwestern. He says that he and Ramsey have grown close since Ramsey arrived in Evanston in June.

"He works really hard and that makes it easy for us to work really hard," Lees said of Ramsey. "He's a good dude outside of football. We've become close since I hosted him way back. He's a good dude and a good leader and I'm excited just to be able to play with him."

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