For Ryan Stamper, working under Meyer for hometown Jaguars the one job he couldn't pass up
For Ryan Stamper, the opportunity to work in his hometown with Urban Meyer for the NFL team he grew up cheering was too good to turn down.
It might have been the only job that could lure him away from Ohio State.
On Friday, Stamper told The Dispatch that he would leave his job as assistant athletic director for player development to become director of player assessment for the Jacksonville Jaguars under Urban Meyer. The team hired the former Buckeyes coach on Thursday.
Stamper is believed to be the only Buckeye staffer who will leave Ohio State to work for Meyer with the Jaguars. At his introductory press conference Friday, Meyer said that he had no intention of raiding OSU’s staff and that he would hire no more than one person from it.
Stamper was a two-time captain and won two national championships playing for Meyer at the University of Florida.
Stamper, 33, is a Jacksonville native. His mother and his 9-year-old daughter, Ryiah, live there.
“It's just one of those opportunities that you thought of, but never really thought that would happen,” Stamper said. “If it was any other place, I wouldn't go because I love Ohio State that much.
“Everything we built, the infrastructure we had, is just as solid as you can get in college football. If it was anywhere else, I couldn’t do it. But the fact that it's my hometown, a team that I grew up a fan of, and I feel like there's a lot of promise with the owner (Shad Khan) and coach Meyer. We can build something special. It'd hard to say no to being a part of that, especially since it's my hometown.”
Stamper worked for a year as a police officer in Florida before joining Meyer at Ohio State after the coach was hired in late 2011. His job involved helping players prepare for a post-football career. The signature part of that program is “Real Life Wednesdays,” which includes having business leaders speak to players about the business world.
Stamper said it stems from his own experience searching for direction after his playing career.
“Being a former player and graduating, and not really knowing what I wanted to do after I got done with college football after having two championships and being a two-time captain, that's a crime,” he said. “That's what drove me to make sure that that didn't happen at Ohio State.”
Ohio State’s program is believed to have been the first of its kind. Other schools have since started their versions of it.
“I'm extremely proud of it,” Stamper said. “We started something that just took off. Life after football, that wasn't really something that people were talking about. It was always about getting to the league (NFL). I always told players, ‘Don't get used by the university. Use the university.’”
With the Jaguars, Stamper will assist in their scouting department in helping to assess the character of potential players.
He said when Meyer discussed hiring him, Stamper could feel the intensity Meyer had as a coach.
“He had that sound in his voice that he had when he recruited me at Florida and then that same sound when he first got to Ohio State,” Stamper said. “If I didn't hear that in his voice, (the job) would have been hard to take.
“But he had a look on his face that he's ready to go. I couldn't pass that up, and especially in my hometown.”
Stamper will work for Ohio State for two more weeks. He said coach Ryan Day understood his decision to leave.
“He said if it was any other job, he might scratch his head, but the fact it's Jacksonville and having the opportunity to build something there, he understood it. He said it would be hard to replace me. I said, ‘You don’t have to replace me. Just hire the right guy.’ I'll help them and I'm sure they'll do a good job, and I'll be a part of that process, too.”
Stamper said he’d miss Ohio State tremendously. He said people like strength coach Mickey Marotti, recruiting guru Mark Pantoni, and Brian Voltolini and Quinn Tempel from the operations department have become more like family than friends.
“I’ll always be a Buckeye,” he said.
But now he’ll get to work in his hometown and be with his real family.