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April 26, 2009A couple of weeks ago after a Michigan State practice session, Javon Ringer was in attendance dressed in Tennessee Titan garb that he had received during a recent pre-draft visit to Music City.
Sunday afternoon, with the last choice of the fifth round (137 overall) of the NFL Draft, Ringer was chosen by the Titans. Now Ringer, a native of Dayton Ohio, will head south to Nashville to begin his pro career with one of the most successful franchises in NFL over the last decade.
Ringer will now try and win a spot on the roster of a team that went and AFC best 13-3 in 2008, before bowing out at home in the AFC divisional playoffs to the Baltimore Ravens.
"I didn't have a clue where I would go, and it went a little longer," Ringer told Titans' Radio Sunday afternoon, "but I am really thankful to be joining the Titans."
Ringer joins two former Spartans on the Titan roster, DT Kevin Vickerson and OT Pete Clifford, who was a teammate of Ringer's at MSU.
Ringer was asked by Titans' Radio what the Tennessee coaching staff had liked about him.
"They told me that they liked my versatility and they liked that I would be willing to contribute on special teams, which is something I have done before," Ringer said. "They just really liked my all around game."
"He was one of the better players on the board at that pick and we brought him in here to compete with the other guys on the depth chart,'' Titans' coach Jeff Fisher said Sunday. "He is a really good inside runner, outside runner and has great quickness and change of direction, and he can find the goal line."
When asked about joining the Titans already crowded backfield, which includes former USC standout LenDale White, second-year backup Chris Henry and 2008 rookie starter and Pro Bowler Chris Johnson , Ringer laughed.
"I would say I fit in pretty well," Ringer said. "I would kind of be a mixture of a lot of the running backs you have. I feel like I would be a nice complement to either White but also be a nice complement to Johnson. I know Johnson is kind of like the super fast one and White is like the really big one. I would kind of be like in the middle I guess you can say. I feel like I will be able to do a lot."
Ringer's pick marks the fourth-straight year that the Titans have chosen a running back in the draft. But with the team reportedly disappointed with White's work ethic last season after a 1,000 yard rookie campaign and Brown being a disappointment since being drafted 50th overall in 2007; Ringer could find himself getting major time behind Johnson next fall.
Ringer was the Spartans' workhorse in his senior season, gaining a combined 1,933 yards on 418 touches; couple that with a combine 982 touches (453 rushes, 529 receptions) in his first three seasons, and many experts suspect that Ringer's best days maybe behind him
However, Ringer has proven time and again to be exceptionally durable and quick to recover from ailments both big and small. It is a trend dating back to high school, as he recalled Sunday on Titans' Radio.
"The (injury on) my right knee was my ACL. That was back in my senior year in high school and I haven't had any problems with that since. That's kind of been able to prove it could last throughout college and continue to last. I (left knee injury) I recently had, I feel like I been able to recover from this pretty quickly. I was able to perform at the combine even though I wasn't a hundred percent I still did pretty decent there. And then the tremendous improvement that I showed at my Pro Day from the combine was another compliment on how my knee is improving. I feel fine with my knee."
Due to his size and versatility, some see Ringer as a third down back, in the mold of a Dave Meggett or Kevin Faulk, at the next level. Others think Ringer has the strength, toughness and just enough size in his 5-9, 200 pound frame to be an every down back.
"I feel like I can do both," Ringer said. "With my quickness and speed, I can be a slasher; I can be a very allusive running back. Also I like contact, that's why I also drive my legs. I am also able to get those tough yards. I am very good with running in between the tackles but I also have the quickness and speed to do what I can in the open field to make it to the outside."
While Ringer doesn't wow anyone with his breakaway ability, there is no question that he is fast, as he proved on MSU's Pro Day last month.
"Speed) is also where I showed my improvement from the combine to my Pro Day," Ringer said. "After my Pro Day, I was probably at 85% and I was able to run a 4.42. That was at only 85%. I'm usually able to run a 4.3 until I had this meniscus tear in January. At the combine, at 75%, I ran a 4.54, then at my Pro Day, I was only 85% and I ran a 4.42. As I am continuing to progress, I feel like my speed will get back to normal."
Despite his production at Michigan State, where he finished his career as the school's second-leading rusher with 4,398 yards, a record 5,426 all-purpose yards and tied for fourth all-time with 34 touchdown runs; Ringer still feels that he has something to prove.
"I definitely have something to prove," Ringer said, "especially with me showing that I am just as good if not better than a lot of the running backs that went above me. Number one, just going to the next level, I don't want to be one of those running backs that who is titled as, 'He was a good running back in college and went to the NFL and became a bust.' I want to make sure I continue to be called a great running back in the NFL."