When former Ravens outside linebacker Jamie Sharper returns to Baltimore as the defensive line coach for the Georgetown football team, he knows not to expect a warm reception from fans.
“I didn’t go to Morgan State,” he quipped ahead of Saturday’s game against Morgan State at Hughes Stadium at noon. “So they don’t care about that at all. I’ll just be on the sideline.”
Still, Sharper, 46, is looking forward to revisiting the city where he landed as a rookie selected in the second round of the 1997 NFL draft from the University of Virginia. Since leaving after the 2001 season, he played for the Houston Texans and the Seattle Seahawks and has made a few appearances at Ravens games at M&T Bank Stadium as a guest and fan.
“The biggest thing is just being able to come back to the area and to relive some of those feelings of being around football in that area,” he said. “Maryland was truly special to me. So now to go up there and do battle against Morgan State, a proud university, and go up against those guys is great for Georgetown University and our team.”
Sharper has become a trusted member of coach Rob Sgarlata’s staff. As experienced as Sharper is, his thirst for knowledge has impressed Sgarlata.
“It’s great to witness somebody who wants to keep learning,” he said. “He’s a guy who played in the NFL, and he’s coming in and asking, ‘How are you teaching this? How does this work?’ So that’s been really refreshing and great for our kids to see as well.”
Saturday’s game will give Sharper a chance to catch up with Derrick Alexander, the Bears pass game coordinator and wide receivers coach who was a wideout with the Ravens until 1997, which was Sharper’s rookie season. Sharper said Alexander and the late Michael Jackson shepherded the 1997 draft class.
“One of my dear friends, Michael Jackson, was a mentor when I first got to Baltimore, and Derrick Alexander was his running mate,” Sharper said. “Michael Jackson had different businesses going on and a lot of charity events going on, and Derrick Alexander was right there with him.”
In five years with the Ravens, Sharper accumulated 328 tackles, 14 sacks, two interceptions and one fumble return for a touchdown. Besides contributing to the organization’s run to its first Super Bowl title in Super Bowl XXXV, Sharper recalled losing games to Kordell Stewart and the hated Pittsburgh Steelers and being part of a 1997 draft class that included outside linebackers Peter Boulware (first round), Tyrus McCloud (fourth) and Cornell Brown (sixth) and inside linebacker Tyrell Peters (free agent).
“It felt like a college atmosphere with all of us young linebackers coming in to play with Ray [Lewis],” Sharper said.
After his final season with the Seahawks in 2005, Sharper worked as a scouting intern for the Texans during the 2013 preseason and then as the linebackers coach at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans. He joined Georgetown in August 2018 as the outside linebackers coach before shifting to the defensive line this season.
The Hoyas (2-7), who did not play last season or practice in the spring because of coronavirus restrictions, have lagged defensively this fall, surrendering an average of 187.9 rushing yards and 20 touchdown runs to opponents. Sharper said he misses the ability to show his current crop of players what to do rather than telling them.
“I think it’s more analytical,” he said of being a coach rather than a player. “You’re using your brain to try to see if you can get the game plan and the players to mesh. You have an idea of what you think you can do against a team, and you want to get it to a point where your defense and your players understand it. That’s the biggest thing that shows whether you can get it done on that Saturday or Sunday.”
Despite his championship pedigree, Sharper rarely talks about his Super Bowl win with his players. Sgarlata recalled Sharper compiling film of several NFL retirees he had arranged to talk to the players last winter and there was only one highlight of Sharper sacking then-New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“You have to drag it out of him,” Sgarlata said. “Sometimes I’ll go, ‘Hey, Coach, you played in the NFL,’ and he’ll go, ‘Oh yeah, I did,’ and that’s it. So it’s interesting. It’s not typical.”
Defensive coordinator Kevin Doherty said Sharper’s background gives him instant credibility with the players.
“I think they have a very high level of respect for him and what he’s been able to accomplish in his life,” he said. “He probably commands more attention than most of the guys speaking from a coach’s standpoint.”
Sharper downplayed the significance of his background while trying to reach out to current and future players.
“The biggest thing is what you can do to help them learn,” he said. “Players understand whether they can get something from you to help them out, and they will matriculate to you if you have that knowledge and desire to make them better.”
Sharper said he has tried to share what he learned from those who coached him. He said former Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis was a stickler about his players using their hands.
“We knew how to get off of blocks by using our hands,” he said. “Playing with your hands was the biggest thing I remember playing defense in Baltimore.”
Sharper said he would like to do what he can to help the Hoyas close out the season on a positive note. Sgarlata said the team has a similar incentive to win the game for Sharper in his return to Baltimore.
“I know it’s important to him,” Sgarlata said. “He’s talked about how close that defensive room was and what we’re trying to create within our own culture here, and it’s been fun to hear him relate those stories. I know that he’s got a lot of family and friends in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. So having him come back to Baltimore, especially getting up to Morgan State, will mean a great deal to him.”
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Source: Berkshire mont