Injuries aside, Ragone is ready
- Aug. 19, 2012
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Missing the entire 2008 season and a majority of the 2011 season with knee injuries has limited senior tight end Mike Ragone’s opportunities in college football. The former Notre Dame tight end was granted a sixth season of eligibility from the NCAA and decided to play it at Kansas.
Ragone is reuniting with Kansas head coach Charlie Weis after playing for him at Notre Dame. Despite having a collegiate career filled with injuries, Ragone has left his struggles behind and wants to make the most out of his last season, remaining optimistic while vying to win as a Jayhawk.
“Injuries are injuries,” Ragone said. “I’ve had some bad luck with that, but I’m moving forward and I’m here playing football. I just want to be part of something special and win a lot of games.”
Tight ends coach Jeff Blasko said he was impressed with the progress Ragone has made since injuring his knee in the third game of the 2011 season. Blasko is not only impressed with Ragone’s ability as a player, but also how he works with his teammates.
While coaches were away in July, Ragone spent time with tight ends Charles Brooks and Jordan Shelley-Smith, getting accustomed to Weis’ offense. Since Ragone was familiar with Weis’ offense, he shared his knowledge with Brooks and Shelley-Smith, who were not with the team during the spring, allowing Blasko to have fewer problems working with his tight ends.
“He brings a sense of toughness to the entire offensive unit,” Blasko said. “He brings an incredible amount of leadership to the table because of all of the experience that he has and he knows the offensive system. It’s been a great fit for our offense up to this point.”
Ragone’s leadership has also been noticed by senior quarterback and captain Dayne Crist, who had no problem connecting with him on a couple of passes during Fan Appreciation practice on August 11.
“Mike’s been great,” Crist said. “He’s done a great job both on the field and also as a leader. He is incredibly motivated.”
While claiming to be laid back, Ragone has been characterized by his coaches and teammates as a funny Jersey guy. However, when it comes to Ragone on the gridiron, the coaches know he’s hungry.
“He knows this is his last shot.” Weis said. “He has had a very unfortunate career, because every time he has gotten in position to be in contention, he got injured. That’s not the case this time. I think that Mike could be one of the people that help us as much as anyone on offense as long as he stays healthy. And right now, he’s as healthy as he has been in a long time.”
Ragone is looking forward to his first game as a Jayhawk. And like any player, he wants to succeed. But as far as how Kansas picks up their wins this season, Ragone does not mind how they come.
“If I don’t get the ball in my hands and if we win every game, then I’m happy,” he said. “I just want to win.”
—Edited by Laken Rapier