LUBBOCK, Texas — “I was a little nervous, but I was excited. I got my first career sack, so that was exciting,” Bryce Ramirez said.
In September 2022, the Texas Tech football team traveled to play North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the junior linebacker Ramirez got his first-ever career start. In the first half of the game, Ramirez suffered a severe season-ending injury. Carted off the field immediately everyone in the stadium held their breath as the medical staff covered Ramirez’s leg with a towel, ESPN chose not to show a replay of the tackle, and 10 silent minutes went by before they began playing again.
“When we talk about ‘The Brand’ and things about being ‘The Brand’, he could’ve been sulking, he could’ve been worried about his leg. The first question he asked me was not ‘how’s my leg?’ it was ‘did we win?’,” TTU Athletic Trainer Steven Lapaso said.
Ramirez remained in a North Carolina hospital where NC State’s head coach, Dave Doeren, paid him a visit as he had suffered a compound fracture to his lower left leg.
“After that night and seeing the injury, I was concerned he [wouldn’t] walk again,” defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said. “There was a concern whether he’d be able to keep his lower leg. It was that traumatic of an injury.”
After undergoing two surgeries he and Lapaso traveled back to Lubbock five days later where he was greeted by Texas Tech Head Football Coach Joey McGuire among others at Preston Smith International Airport.
“He’s a true team player,” Lapaso said, “a true competitor where he is 100% focused on the team. Telling guys ‘don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine, go win the game.'”
Texas Tech lost the game to NC State after the injury and Ramirez’s 2022 season had effectively ended right then and there. Prior to the season, Ramirez was one of four players to be put on an athletic scholarship at Texas Tech after walking on to the team in 2019.
“He got excellent medical care, he was obviously with our trainers and rehab crew here, and they did phenomenal work with him on their end and on his end he was not going to be denied.”
Fast forward six months, Ramirez is still in rehab trying to get back to normal, but he’s walking on his own. Unsure he’d ever play football again, the linebacker was disciplined and diligent about returning to the 2023 season.
“Bryce Ramirez will be full go tomorrow, and you can expect to see him playing against Wyoming,” head coach Joey McGuire said one day prior to the 2023 Fall Camp.
Ramirez wore jersey #54 for the first four years of his time in the Texas Tech football program. This year however Bryce was given the jersey #3 to wear signifying ‘The Brand’ which to the team means the toughest, hardest working most competitive player. This also meant Bryce Ramirez was released to play full-speed football this upcoming season.
“Bryce is amazing,” Outside Linebackers coach C.J. Ah You said as he choked up emotionally about Ramirez, “For him to be on this field…the kid’s amazing man. His work says it alone, how he attacks every day. We are very blessed to have him on this team.”
The Texas native is fully released to play and pick up where he left off as a pass rusher and edge linebacker, but Ramirez still has some residual swelling around his left leg.
“It’s going to be a lot of emotion honestly,” Ramirez said when talking about playing for the first time since the injury, “because just knowing I wasn’t able to be out there all last season. And how close it was for me I didn’t know if I’d be able to play again honestly. I haven’t even really processed it yet, really, it’s still sometimes I don’t even really process that I’m out here practicing.”
Ramirez was released as two deep on the depth chart and is expected to play in multiple coverages this season. Bryce told DC DeRuyter that he’s about 90 percent, and the coach told the media in a press conference prior to game one of the season that come game day Bryce’s 90 percent will be well over 100 percent.
“There’s a reason why he’s wearing number three; he is this place,” Ah You said.