TDA: Why did you decide to come to Alabama? Were you and Ken Darby a packaged deal?
RR: The fact that UA was always known as a high-caliber school to play college football and for me I never knew college was so significant. No one in my family was able to attend college. After tenth grade I was receiving letters and as I was thinking about that decision, I wanted to go somewhere where my family could support me. I wanted to be somewhere close to home. The highest level possible for a choice of school. There is no pro team in Alabama, so I figured that hands down I wanted to go here to represent my family and go to school. My mother was a single mom and probably couldn’t afford to travel. She had five kids and was doing the best she could to raise us. To only be two hours south was an opportunity to see me play. That played a huge part in my decision.
Ken and I never talked about going to the same university. We were so competitive and we never really sat down and talked about it together. After we signed it was like, “Ima get on the field before you!” *laughter*
TDA: What was that first season like going through all of that turmoil with Coach Franchione leaving, Coach Price being fired, and then Coach Shula coming in?
RR: You’re really taking me to a moment. It was bitter sweet. It was bitter because before going to college, I had the same coach and he would take me home after practice and play a father figure role to me. I was used to whoever my coach was I was used to trusting this male to lead me on and off the field. Here I am now and the same coach who sat in the front office of my school in front of my mother, coach, and principal, telling me he would be my coach the entire time I was there — walked away for whatever reasons he felt. I was used to the opposite. But it was sweet because it gave me a reality check. It gave me an opportunity to mature at a young age. I felt like it was still a business side to it. I kind of accepted it for what it was. I now saw that it was a business. I then felt I couldn’t be so vulnerable to coaches anymore.
TDA: One of the first games I remember of you was the 2003 Northern Illinois game where you were the nickel back. How did that outing help inspire you for the future?
RR: The game in itself, I wasn’t taking them serious enough. I was not mature enough to understand how important it was. It didn’t matter what uniform you have on. I just had to understand on this level you have to play every play like it’s your last play. I had to make a choice after that game whether to be a mediocre DB or a great DB. I made a decision that night that I want to be the best corner in the country. That motivated me, and sent me on a path of reckless abandon to be great. I don’t think I slept at all after that game…
TDA: You were able to start the 2004 season at cornerback. When did the light come on for you that enabled you to gain the trust of the coaches like that?
RR: In that offseason, Coach Ball, my position coach, was able to witness my work ethic. Doing extra work on the football field preparing for the offseaosn program. When it was time to prepare, my actions spoke louder than my words. When the light came on, it was after training camp and I was making all types of plays. I felt like the ball was so fat, almost like a basketball player when he’s in the zone. Coach ball told me ‘You’re going to be great, keep doing what you’re doing.’ That A Day game, I ended on a great note, and I wasn’t gonna let no one take that opportunity from me. My play gave the coaches a sense of security and I gave them no other option but to keep me on the field and it allowed them to move (Charlie) Peprah to safety.
TDA: Talk about that 2005 season and that defense. What made it so special?
RR: I think it was we were so close on and off the field. We were true friends and true brothers. If you’re not really close with someone, you may not play as hard for them. A lot of us came in and we were able to mature and grow together as a group. In 2005, guys got some plays under their belt as a group. As a result of being so close, we just carried a swag in 2005 like no other. All of us just had a confidence that we were gonna be the best. As for the DB’s, Coach Ball really saw our potential as a group and challenged us everyday saying that we were great and we started believing that. When it was time to play, we knew we were the best. We just had a swag that even til this day, that was the best group I’ve played with.
TDA: You seemed to have a lot of nicknames at UA. Your most common was “Bino” where did that come from?
RR: Everyone that knew me knew me as Bino, and it originated from middle school football and my coach used to call me Rambo. Then it went from my boys calling me Rambino and then at UA they were too lazy to call me Rambino and just started calling me Bino. So when I got to Alabama, the media said to give them something to play off. So I said B.I.N.O. stands for “Best In Number One.” But the name itself came from years of friends, family, and associates butchering the name.
TDA: What was the Iron Bowl like as a player? How was it not being able to beat those guys?
RR: The Iron Bowl in itself you always look forward to that game even before the season starts. For me, the guys down south (I don’t like to even say their name) I always felt that their moment is coming. That’s what college football was all about — just experiencing that moment. Your friends and classmates rooting for you, wishing you well, to family where some houses are divided and some are on the other side going for the other team. Just preparing for those guys, you may have played against them in high school and you knew that time was coming where the entire state and country would be watching this game. Guys coming from similar backgrounds, neighborhoods, that just decided to go to the other school. The smell of the grass, I just can’t compare it to any other game. Only so many people get to say they experience it all and I was just thankful to even play. The most difficult part is just failng to win the game, and I have NO bragging rights! — As a competitor. I only have bragging rights as a fan. I still have friends that still bring it up to this day, and unfortunately I’ll just have to take that to my grave.
TDA: What was your most memorable game in college?
RR: The 2005 Ole Miss game. It was so memorable for me personally, because I was having issues with my back with a stress fracture. I still played in the beginning of the season and I remember before that game my back spazzed up, and it was going to be the first game that I would miss since starting competitive sports at age seven. I just remember going to our chaplain Jeremiah Castille and asking him to pray over me because I wanted to play. And I just remember a weight being lifted and the pain going away and I knew it was all God and I just remember going out that game and I just CLOWNED. That was one of the best games of my career. The maturity I had about football, I was just letting it fly, being myself — Showtime. I was making plays all over the field. That was a fun game for me because of the adversity I faced before the game and being able to go out and perform.
The Florida game was like 1B for me. The crowd was so live that game. That day and that year, they proved to the entire year that we have the greatest fans hands down. We were in a specific defense and anytime their number one receiver Chad Jackson lined up in the slot I would track him and we gave a zone look to Chris Leak and it was a big moment in the game and Coach called that defense specifically for me and when he came off the ball I was going to put my hands on him, and based on his movements and film study, I knew exactly what he was gonna do and I broke on the ball and just picked it off. It was so surreal when I caught it, I had to remind myself to take off and start running. It was a culmination of the hard work I put in — the coaches trusted me to lock down their top receiver and that’s when I knew I needed to take it to the next level in playing this game.
TDA: How was it like playing in the NFL?
RR: For me personally, it was a dream come true. Growing up in a single parent home, not knowing anything outside of seeing a 60 hour a week job, and I remember watching Emmitt Smith carrying the ball against the Giants and I remember John Madden commenting on his legs and how great he was, and I wanted that. Coming out of the projects, watching my mom struggle, I had a chip on my shoulder — that’s why I talked so much trash. That moment being drafted and getting on the football field and running down the football field against the Bucs and then making the opening tackle! It was a dream come true. Dreams do come true and to be able to see it and it showed me that it was real and it can be obtained. Just to be able to play and compete against the greatest athletes in the world, it’s still surreal. I still look through old photos and I thank God that I was able to do this. Football has changed my life. Not only did it change my life, but my family’s life, and for that, I’m very grateful.
TDA: What are you up to now?
RR: What takes up most of my time is I’m a general manager of a staffing agency in Colorado in which I manage staffing companies. I’ve been doing that since I retired. I have my degree in Business Management as well. Jody Audet, she’s a former volleyball player for Arizona State and she could relate to my work ethic and skills that relate to the workforce. She saw the competitor in me and in 2012, she saw my potential and took a chance on me and now I’ve been able to excel. The name of the agency is TPM Staffing. Part-time I got in to acting last fall with Game Changing Films. On October 14th, my first film titled Woodlawn has me playing as a Penn State defensive back and Woodlawn High School football player. I’m currently working on another project in Atlanta called Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. I’m attending acting school in Denver at John Casablanca. I’m having a lot of fun doing that. I’m at peace with where I’m at today.
LB C.J. Mosley
DT Jeremy Clark
LB Eryk Anders
LB DeMeco Ryans
LB Nico Johnson