When Bakersfield College football coach Jeff Chudy barks out for a player he calls “Marine," it’s not just a clever nickname.
Desmond Ramseur really lived that life for six years.
The 25-year old, who started at linebacker and recorded a team-high 14 tackles in last week’s 21-6 season-opening victory over Allan Hancock, spent six years in the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve before joining the football team at BC.
“It’s always been a burning passion within my heart, and when I came out here I seen a chance and had an opportunity to (play), and I was just like, ‘What the heck?’” Ramseur said. “I just went out for the team and got to know the coaches, and it worked good for me.”
After Ramseur graduated from Maiden High School in North Carolina in 2010, he joined the Marines because of the change he saw in a childhood friend who returned home after joining the service.
“When he came back home (the way) he carried himself and his whole demeanor and the way he walked and talked, I wanted that for myself,” Ramseur said. “That’s what led me to join the Marine Corps.”
For the next six years, Ramseur was part of the Combat Logistics Battalion 451 in South Carolina.
That’s where he met his wife, Alexis Savedra, a Highland graduate. The two had a child and eventually transferred to NAS Lemoore.
When Ramseur left the reserves in 2015, he wanted to pursue another adventure.
“He just showed up and pounded on the doorstep,” Chudy said.
That season, Ramseur played in five games and recorded nine tackles as a freshman.
Last year, Ramseur stepped away from football to take care of personal matters. The transition from military life to junior college football for someone five to six years older than his teammates took a toll.
“He had so many things going on in his life,” Chudy said. “His whole situation was tough to wrap your head around. It’s not easy. He is just a unique person.”
Ramseur returned to the program in January ready to help lead the Renegades like he did while serving his country.
“I just come out here and work hard. That’s all I can do,” Ramseur said. “I just try to be a leader like in the military, man. To have people fall in behind you and get hyped up and get going and see how you’re playing, they follow right behind you.”
Almost instantly, Chudy and other BC coaches saw how naturally leadership came for Ramseur.
“He’s an unbelievable worker. He’s trustworthy,” Chudy said. “He is a leader by example. He’s not a guy that’s going stand on the table and thump his chest. He just works hard and gives it his best shot.”
Ramseur and the No. 12 state-ranked Renegades are on the road at 6 tonight at No. 18 Chaffey College. Both teams won their season openers.
“Chaffey is 1-0, too. I can guarantee they are coming into this game with a lot of confidence,” Chudy said. “But we have a great vibe right now."
For Ramseur, there is a strong correlation between Marines and football.
“Just like in the military, we are out there as a unit,” Ramseur said. “We are going to war on Saturdays. We’ve got to come together and we’ve got to fight for each other and the man beside us, and we have to have each other’s back. Just like the Marine Corps.”
For BC, two is better than 1
Chudy doesn’t need to be reminded of the old saying, ‘If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.”
He also doesn’t seem to care right now as he will continue to play both Cesar De Leon and Brandon Jones tonight.
One change: Jones will get the start, but like last week, both are expected to take a balanced number of snaps.
“Right now we see a lot of value in playing both of those guys," Chudy said. "They both will play. Brandon has worked with the starters this week. Cesar will play. That’s the plan. Each has their own skillset and they are different.”
De Leon, a Centennial graduate, completed 6 of 13 passes for 96 yards with one touchdown and an interception against Hancock.
Jones, a Bakesfield Christian graduate, was 3 of 8 for 83 yards and also threw for a score and an interception. He also rushed for 22 yards, including a 2-yard score in the second quarter.
Chudy said he doesn’t have plans to change how to use the two signal-callers.
“Not right now,” Chudy said. “We are trying to get into a rhythm and flow and trying to find out who we are. We are getting there.”
Football teams at any level will have kinks to iron out after their first game.
The Renegades flashed talent but also had missed assignments, false starts and an array of areas that can be fixed over time in the 21-6 win over Hancock.
The plus? BC's coaching staff is raving about the intensity of the players after just one week.
“You feel good about the fact that we have good energy,” Chudy said. “We like our chemistry and locker room. Those aren’t battles we are fighting. They are lunch-pail guys, and that’s a good thing to have.”
While returning starters like Jakell Tomlin, Lameshio Hill and Matt Hubble all opened the season with solid performances, the energy also came from freshmen from local high schools.
Garces graduate Cameron Roberson took a screen pass from De Leon 52 yards for a touchdown.
“That was a pass that went 1 yard and the rest of it was all Cam,” Chudy said.
Roberson’s high school teammate Jeremiah Johnson was second on the team with six tackles, and Elisha Ortiz (Stockdale) led the Renegades with 65 rushing yards on 12 carries (5.4 average).
“We have to pick up the execution part, but we have a lot of speed and a good locker room,” Chudy said. “If everyone is on the same page, we are fun to watch.”