The same could besaid for Harewood's journey to the NFL, one of the more improbable career pathsin NFL history. Harewood, anative of Barbados, never even played football until he enrolled at MorehouseCollege in Atlanta, where coaches literally had to show him how to put on theequipment. Raised by an aunt after his mother died, Harewood played on juniornational teams in rugby, track and volleyball, and also played cricket inBarbados, an island nation in the Lesser Antilles about six times smaller thanRhode Island. Football? What'sthat?He ultimatelyfound out after a chance meeting at a college fair in Barbados with MichaelGrant, a track coach from Atlanta who would later coach football at Morehouse.Harewood, a standout student, first enrolled at the University of West Indiesto study engineering, but then transferred to Morehouse after earning anacademic scholarship and decided to give football a shot.
"He had topretty much learn everything," said Brian Braswell, the offensive linecoach at Morehouse. "I mean everything. We started with the rules of thegame. Then stretching, how to put on pads, fundamentals, things like that. "But he'ssuch a smart kid, once you tell him something once, he gets it."Current Morehousehead coach Rich Freeman, who came to the Atlanta school when Harewood was asophomore -- after being Jacoby Jones' special teams coach at Lane College --said he took one look at Harewood, and the way he moved, and said, "Thisguy can play in the NFL."
Freeman movedHarewood from the defensive line to the offensive side, and by his junior year,Harewood had blossomed into an all-conference lineman. By his senior year,scouts were flocking to Morehouse -- Martin Luther King Jr.'s alma mater -- tosee this athletic project with quick feet who was as big as a house and strongenough to lift one. The Ravens madeHarewood, 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds, their sixth-round pick in the 2010 draft, butHarewood's NFL career screeched to a halt before it started. He spent not onebut two entire seasons on injured reserve, first for surgery on both knees in2010, and then with an ankle injury last season.
Harewood saidthat one of the hardest things through that time was watching every otherplayer the Ravens drafted in 2010 -- Sergio Kindle, Terrence Cody, Ed Dickson,Dennis Pitta, David Reed and Arthur Jones -- play for the Ravens, while he wasstuck on the sideline. But, he said,"I was raised in my heritage to never say never. Just keep fighting, andthat's all I did."
"It's not inmy mentality to (quit)," he added. "My mom died when I was 10, andshe would always tell me, 'Never let anyone tell you what you can and cannotdo."Finally healthythis summer, Harewood landed a spot on the Ravens' 53-man roster, a spot thatseemingly wasn't secure until the final cuts were announced.
"We thoughtreally highly of Ramon, coach John Harbaugh said after the Week 1 win. Wejust thought he looked like a player."Hes a bigguy with long arms who can bend and get leverage on defensive tackles,"Harbaugh added, "and hes done a good job with it.
But amid a lot ofspeculation over the makeup of the starting offensive line, Harewood's name wasrarely mentioned, and even then it was primarily at tackle rather than guard.
Yet when thestarters stormed out of the tunnel on Monday night, there was Harewood, theonly Barbados native ever to play in the NFL, beating the odds, and later, theBengals."He hasunspeakable drive," Freeman said. "He's such a quiet person that youmay not know it, but you will ultimately see the results from it."
From Barbados to Baltimore: Meet Ramon Harewood
September 13, 2012, 12:31 pm