ENID — Rayjohn Ramsey is just having fun during his rookie season of professional indoor football.
“This is different from (outdoor football), but it's actually fun,” the Flying Aces quarterback said at Thursday’s practice at Stride Bank Center as the team prepared for its 7 p.m. Saturday game against Duke City. “It’s a fun environment. I'm having a great time.”
Between questions, Ramsey laughs as the Flying Aces' offense tries to practice without him. Save for a back-corner touchdown pass, throws from temporary passers like receiver Josh Stewart are far from accurate.
“Yeah,” Ramsey said. “This team likes to have fun.”
Now that he’s actually playing in games as the Flying Aces starting quarterback instead of watching from the bench, fun is all that Ramsey’s having. And he’s enjoying every minute of it.
Just playing ball
Fun has always been the driver of Ramsey’s success and comfort when times were tough. Before his family moved to San Antonio, Texas, Ramsey grew up in a “tough neighborhood” in Dayton, Ohio.
Shootings were routine in Ramsey’s neighborhood. When asked to describe what his life was like, Ramsey paused.
“That’s a tough question,” he said. “I’m not even sure. Everyone has their own problems and issues … That’s one thing me and my family never talked about outside of the family. We kept it in-house. I really don’t even know how to answer that.”
So, how does somebody have fun in that environment?
“We played ball,” Ramsey answered.
With parents never too far away, Ramsey played football “all the time” until the street lights came on. When his family moved to San Antonio, where they had additional family, Ramsey and his brother set a goal.
“(We) wanted to play football and get scholarships,” he said. “And we did that.”
A new driver
Ramsey plays as hard as he works.
“He calls me every day and says, ‘What time are we watching film?’” Flying Aces head coach and team president Richard Davis said. “He doesn’t rely on me to call him. His work ethic leads the way and his preparation is fantastic.
“Those are the things you really don’t know until a dude gets into the driver’s seat.”
Ramsey is the third man in the driver’s seat of the Flying Aces offense this season. The prior two quarterbacks, Joshua Floyd Jr. and Malik Watson, are no longer with the team. Oklahoma went with one active quarterback during the first three weeks of the season, a roster norm in the Champions Indoor Football league.
Through the first three weeks of the year, Ramsey sat behind Floyd and learned about the indoor game from the sidelines as he watched Floyd play. Once he got into the driver seat himself, Ramsey took off.
Through three weeks, Ramsey racked up a team-leading 758 passing yards and averaged 252 yards per game, second-best in the league. He also threw 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 141 passing attempts during that stretch.
During last week’s exhibition game against the North Texas Savages, a 52-6 win, Ramsey threw for 181 yards and three touchdowns. His deflection of praise is just as impressive as his stat line.
“All I’m doing is calling the play and getting the ball to the right guys,” he said. “They do the rest after that, honestly.”
Finding a solution
The Flying Aces (2-7) only two wins this season have come by forfeit against the now-defunct Texas Revolution.
Ramsey doesn’t sugarcoat the Flying Aces’ struggles — “we didn’t finish a few games” — but he knows Oklahoma will eventually figure out how to get to a win.
It’s the kind of mindset that helps Ramsey deal with his dyslexia, a condition that makes it difficult for him to read or type, but fails to affect how he studies football.
“I’m just a visual learner, mostly,” he said. “If I'm seeing it over and over again, I'm comfortable with it.”
For Ramsey, a math major from East Central University, winning in football is like solving a math problem.
“With math, you can get three lines and be done or you can fill up a whole paper (solving the problem),” Ramsey said. “It doesn’t matter how you get the answer, as long as you get the answer … Football is just being patient. Sitting there, taking the time, watching film, after film, after film.”
Often, when he does find the solution, Ramsey is quick to celebrate the process rather than the result, like when he throws a touchdown pass.
“He will celebrate that we found that (opening) in our game plan,” Davis said. “You just don’t get that very often. He’s a celebrator of the process. Not the result. That’s what coaches look for. Invest in the process and the results will follow. I think we’re starting to see that.”
The Flying Aces have their first of two opportunities at home in the next two weeks to get their first on-field win, but face one of the top teams in the CIF Saturday night. The Duke City Gladiators (6-3) defeated Oklahoma 71-6 in Week 3.
However, Duke City will not just face a new quarterback, but virtually a new team. Only six players from that meeting remain on the Oklahoma roster.
“We’re a whole different team and the last couple of games, we’ve been pretty solid,” Ramsey said.