By Nick Peralta
From offensive powerhouse to potential defensive phenom, star athlete Vic Viramontes continues to contribute heavily to the Riverside City College Tigers football team.
Only now, instead of taking command at the offensive helm from the quarterback position, Viramontes now reinforces the team’s defense at the linebacker post.
A change of position as diverse as this is peculiar and quite unconventional. It is not often that we see football players at the college or professional level change positions as drastic as offense to defense, but to move from the quarterback position to linebacker is virtually unheard of.
However it seems Viramontes’ move to defense was already a change that the former star quarterback was anticipating.
“When I had transferred from (University of) Minnesota to RCC, I talked to coach (Tom) Craft telling him that I wanted to switch my position, and that I wanted to start playing defense instead of offense,” said Viramontes. “Out of high school I had offers for the linebacker position and the defense side of the ball. I just feel like the linebacker position and defense in general would be the (better) route in getting me to the NFL so I can start supporting my family and pay them back.”
A position change of this magnitude points out the unconventional methods that continue to follow Craft. Craft, who is now in his ninth season with the Tigers, clearly sees the potential that Viramontes possesses and believes that the sophomore player has what it takes to make an impact on the defensive end similarly to his impactful presence last season as the starting quarterback.
“I’ve told coach Craft so he knows this. I trust them,” said Viramontes. “Last year I trusted what they did with me. The coaches here could coach Division One college. Coach really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to football. They not only teach you about football but they teach you about life. I wouldn’t go to any other junior college. This is the right school.”
Viramontes has also taken the time to learn from his teammates during his transition and finds confidence in relying on his fellow teammates.
“I’ve worked with linebacker Devin Charles, and he knows the system better than anyone because he was here last year,” Viramontes said. “He’s a great linebacker. I look up to him and what he does. There’s times where me and him will communicate and we’ll talk and I know he’s been there before so it helps to get his input. I love to learn from him because he’s been playing this position his whole life.”
Viramontes was a proven force in 2017 as he captained a Tigers team that went 10-2 and advanced all the way to the California Community College Athletic Association championship. As a quarterback, Viramontes put up moderate stats for a passer. Across the season, Viramontes threw for 1,868 yards and garnered 22 passing touchdowns.
“I grew up playing quarterback my whole life,” Viramontes said. But it was his effectiveness to run the ball that truly emphasizes his athleticism and play making ability. While quarterback, Viramontes amassed an incredible 1,346 yards rushing with 21 rushing touchdowns. This placed him first in California in rushing touchdowns and fourth overall in rushing yards. All of these accolades contributed to his highlight achievement as the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year for the CCCAA.
Three games into the 2018 football season, Viramontes has thus far garnered 16 total tackles, averaging out to 5.3 tackles per game.
“I haven’t played (defense) in like, four years,” Viramontes said. “In high school was where I played defense. I played well, but having not played for four years it was a bit of adjusting because I am used to having the ball in my hands, but now its about getting the ball back for the offense, instead of being in control. I get to fly around and I get to hit people so it’s a lot easier but once you get the technique down, you’re going to see everything turn out the way I expect.”
Now Viramontes opens a different chapter in his already storied college football career. As a middle linebacker, he vows to improve upon newfound skills and strategies from the other side of the football.
“The goal this season is to get better every week,” Viramontes said. “Getting better each week will open up more doors and more opportunities for me to get to the next level. That starts with me practicing every chance I can, and preparing for the games on Saturdays.”