ATHENS, Ga. -- It was probably inevitable that Brice Ramsey and his golden arm would finally quit soccer, the family business, and give football a try. It still took until a fortuitous moment his final year of middle school.
Ramsey was just messing around during a P.E. class when, on a lark, he picked up a football and started throwing it around. Classmates, including future college teammate J.J. Green, stood amazed. A football coach soon approached him.
That arm. It needed to be put to use.
“That’s where it all started,” Ramsey said.
There is a lot left to be decided about the quarterback position at Georgia, with starter Hutson Mason entering his senior year. But there is no dispute about one fact: Ramsey, the redshirt freshman, can gun it harder than anyone else.
“Huge cannon,” receiver Chris Conley said.
“I heard Brice throw a slant in a scrimmage this week, and it hit (receiver Blake) Tibbs in the chest and I thought it was gonna knock Tibbs out,” center David Andrews said.
Georgia coaches thought so much of that right arm that they offered Ramsey a scholarship before he even started a game in high school. They saw enough at various camps, and, prior to his junior year at Camden County, head coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo told Ramsey they wanted him to be a Bulldogs player.
Ramsey jumped at the chance, although he didn’t grow up a Georgia fan -- born in Maryland, he spent much of his childhood in Chicago -- nor even much of a football fan.
Soccer was his first sport, and that of his family. His father and uncle both played at the college level (Wingate University in North Carolina), and his uncle, David Hayes, briefly played for D.C. United of the MLS.
“I always looked up to my uncle as a sports figure,” Ramsey said.
Then Ramsey pointed out that he was “pretty good” in high school, too, serving as Camden County’s punter and continuing to play soccer. Still, it soon became obvious that being a quarterback was his calling.
He has worked with a few people on his arm, but it mostly seems a raw, God-given talent. He has worked more on his footwork, although he admits he can work more on getting the right touch on his passes. He also has to learn when to take something off a pass to a tailback out of the backfield.
“So they’re not getting a lot of heat thrown at them,” Ramsey said.
Bobo has told Ramsey that he has the strongest arm since Matthew Stafford.
“He’s told me that I’ve got a good arm, and it’s about the strongest one he’s seen since Stafford,” Ramsey said. “But he tells me every day that a strong arm’s nothing without the mental aspect of football.”
That’s the key now for Ramsey, who is battling with Faton Bauta for the No. 2 quarterback job this spring. Bauta, who saw a few snaps last season as a redshirt freshman, began the spring with the slight edge over Ramsey, who redshirted last season.
But Ramsey’s talent has made it at least an even battle, with Saturday’s G-Day being another barometer in a competition that will last awhile.
“I don’t think there’s a clear frontrunner right now,” Conley said.
“Two different players,” Andrews said of Ramsey and Bauta. “No player is the same as the other, so it’s hard to compare. They both do different things well. It’ll be a competition that goes on into fall camp.”
Bauta’s mobility will be an edge over Ramsey, who admits he’s rather slow. Bauta has also earned raves for his decision-making and work ethic.
But Ramsey is catching up there, too. And he’ll always have the gun.
“I feel like I’ve always had a big arm. That’s always been one of the big ups about my game,” he said. “But like I said, that doesn’t really matter if you can’t make the right reads or pick up the protection. So it’s more a mental game than physical.”