Keeping players constantly motivated is often one of the biggest challenges coaches are faced with. However, that is not the case with Air Force senior defensive lineman Rick Ricketts.
Regarded as one of the most intense players ever to suit up for Falcon football, Ricketts brings a non-stop motor and a fiery attitude to the defensive line.
Coaches and teammates rave about his work ethic and determination, not just in games, but in practices as well. A mild mannered individual off the field, Ricketts brings so much intensity to the gridiron, he is constantly reminded by the coaching staff to reign it in during practice.
A three-year letterwinner, Ricketts is coming off a solid junior year where he led all Falcon defensive linemen with 54 tackles. In 38 career games, the San Jose, Calif., native has amassed 108 career tackles, including 10.0 for loss.
Ricketts sat down with communications assistant Nick Arseniak and answered some questions regarding his intensity, being a defensive lineman and who is the best athlete in his family.
How many times a week to you get told to tone it down at practice?
"Too many times to count."
Teammates say your are the mellowest guy off the field. Why are you so intense on the field. "I just know when to flip the switch I guess. Sometimes I just build up some stuff throughout the day and just let loose once I get on the field."
Defensive line coach Ron Burton is known for having some crazy sayings. What is the most interesting one you've heard?
"He always uses a reference to the ice cream man. When we get too high in our stance and get stood up by blockers, he says we're 'lookin' at the ice cream truck.' Which after four years still makes no sense to me."
How is the defensive line corps as a unit? Do you guys get along well?
"We definitely do. We're goofy, but a tight-knit group. An outsider may say we're collectively immature, but I think we just like to enjoy our company."
With you and fellow defensive lineman Ryan Gardner hailing from San Jose, do you guys brag about the talent that comes from that city?
"We do sometimes. I always tell our coaches that if they want consistently good defensive linemen, they should keep looking in San Jose."
What were some things you had to adjust to at the college level in regards to playing d-line?
"The speed of the game. Everything is a lot faster. Also the size of the offensive lineman and the running backs are a lot harder to bring down."
Any interesting conversations with opposing offensive linemen?
"I do, but not suitable for this Q&A. The offensive linemen always do the talking and I do my best to back it up with my play."
What has been the toughest road venue to play at?
"New Mexico is a tough venue just because of the student section being right behind our bench. They are close to the field and on you the whole game."
Do you have any superstitions in regards to football?
"I just have a consistent routine. I do everything the same way I guess."
Any teammates with weird ones?
"We have a lot of guys who wear their high school football t-shirts during warmups."
Who was a big influence in your sports career?
"My dad was. He played D-line at San Francisco State and just taught me things growing up that have helped me along the way. I think I know a lot about playing defensive line because of all the things he taught me when I was growing up."
Your have two sisters currently playing collegiate softball and a third that was a collegiate All-American. Who's the best athlete in the family?
"My youngest sister, Keilani, who is pitching at Oklahoma. At 6-foot-3, she's the tallest of my siblings and an extremely talented athlete."
Two of your sisters, Keilani and Stephanie (at Hawai'i) pitch in college. Could you get a hit off them?
"No I could not. My dad used to make me catch for them and my hand always hurt afterwards catching those fastballs."
What is your favorite thing about playing football at Air Force?
"The heart that everyone has. You rarely ever see someone give up on a play here. That fits with my personality and its something I like. Sometimes you don't' see that at other schools."
What are your plans upon graduation?
"I'm not sure yet, but I'd like to go become an acquisitions officer."