Football: Ricketts shines in short sophomore season

Former Rochelle football player Greg Ricketts went from a scout team member as a freshman to earning a starting role on defense at Central College this year. (Photo courtesy of Central College athletics)

Former Hub linebacker earns starting role at Central College

For Rochelle Township High School graduate Greg Ricketts, two football games were better than none. While several colleges and universities across the country canceled their entire 2020 football seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ricketts had an opportunity to compete in a condensed two-game spring season for Central College in Pella, Iowa earlier this year.

Ricketts made the most of his brief time on the gridiron, earning a starting role at outside linebacker and helping lead the Dutch to victories over Simpson and Nebraska Wesleyan. After serving as a scout team player during his freshman season, Ricketts elevated his game as a sophomore, totaling seven tackles, two pass breakups and one-half tackles for loss. With his junior season only weeks away, Ricketts has stayed in Iowa to continue his training.

“I thought I made some big strides during the pandemic and I was able to start on defense while also playing a lot of special teams during our spring season,” Ricketts said. “I think I’m going to have a very similar role going into my junior season and I think I’ll see a significant amount of snaps. I’m looking forward to competing in the fall and playing at a high level… My football experience has been fantastic and I’m so glad I chose Central College. I’ve created relationships with both my coaches and my teammates that I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

The Dutch are now 12-2 in the two seasons Ricketts has suited up for the football program. After winning a conference championship during his freshman season, Ricketts said he and his teammates have lofty expectations for the 2021 campaign. Feeling faster and stronger than he’s ever felt, Ricketts said the consistent training he and his teammates have completed throughout the offseason will be a key factor in how Central College will fare this fall.

“We want to repeat as conference champions and that’s our focus right now,” Ricketts said. “I want to give everything I can to this team and I want my teammates to see me as the guy who gives everything he has during practice and in games… I’ve always been a football player who stays in the right spot and doesn’t miss assignments. I felt like I did that well this past season, but I think I’m ready to take my game to the next level and really start making some plays. Where I want to improve most is making the unexpected plays and elevating my game.”