Hope you got to read my profile of Bacarri Rambo. A little background: I did not set out to report on him dealing with the death of his son. didn’t know about it. It was one of those situations where I had planned to feature him this week since he was coming off a two-interception performance against Ole Miss and now leads the nation in interceptions per game. It was only after calling down to Rambo’s Donalsonville hometown that I discovered what he had been dealing with in the days leading up to the game and since. And then I wasn’t really sure how I was going to handle it. I had to talk to those closest to Georgia’s star safety — and, of course, Rambo himself — before deciding how to proceed. In any case, what was lost in the wake of all that was some of the anecdotal information I gathered for the story. So that it doesn’t go to waste, I figured I’d just share it here. . . .
Rambo’s Seminole County head coach is Alan Ingram. He told me about first discovering Rambo’s unique athletic gifts when Rambo came into the high school as a ninth grader.
“He was just a little goober then, a real small guy,” Ingram said. “But you could tell right away he was an athlete. And he was fast. I’m an option guy, so I knew I wanted to get the ball in his hands. We played three ballgames and we lost them all. We didn’t really have any athletes. So finally I threw him to the wolves at quarterback in that fourth game. We lost that game, too, 7-6, but we played a whole lot better because of him. And he just got better and better after that and we started to win some ballgames.”
Ingram said Rambo quickly became a local legend, but he was slow in drawing attention from outside the rural southwest Georgia region. He vividly recalls what first attracted the Bulldogs to his star player, who played quarterback and outside linebacker in high school.
“I was at a coaches clinic and Mike Bobo was speaking. I’ve known Mike forever, so I asked him, ‘when are y’all going to come look at the Rambo kid?. He says, ‘can he play?’ I said, ‘I just happened to put a tape in the mail to you on Friday. You look at it and give me a call back’.”
Ingram said the first highlight on the video was of Rambo on defense. Rambo was playing outside linebacker on the far side of the field when an opposing player broke free down the opposite sideline. Not only did Rambo manage to run down the player, he also punched the ball loose from the runner’s sideline arm, caught the ball in midair and whipped around and returned it 40 yards in the other direction.
The tape also some offensive highlights, including 14-carry, 388-yard, six-touchdown performance by Rambo in the 2007 playoffs.
“That next Monday, Bobo called me,” Ingram said. “Coach Richt and all of the coaches were there with him and they were laughing and carrying on after watching the tape. He says, ‘Holy Cow!’ Tell him he’s got an offer.”
Other colleges received the same highlight tape and offers quickly came pouring in, including one from Georgia Tech, which wanted Rambo to come to The Flats and run the option. But Ingram said none of the other schools really had a chance.
“He grew up wanting to be a Bulldog and his daddy wanted him to go to Georgia, too,” Ingram said.
About Tech, Rambo told me he was intrigued with the idea of running coach Paul Johnson’s spread option, which is very similar to what they were doing at Seminole. However, he said he really did grow up wanting to play for the Georgia Bulldogs. Plus . . .
“I got tired of getting hit. I wanted to hit somebody else.”
So that’s kind of where I was going with the story — Rambo’s nose for the football — before the news of his son’s death took it elsewhere. Rambo is enters the Mississippi State game on Saturday with nine career interceptions. The Georgia career record is 16 by Hall of Famer Jake Scott, so he has a way to go to run that one down. Practice update coming soon.