Football runs in the Ricketts family, so it’s no surprise that Hub senior Greg Ricketts will be continuing both academics and athletics when he graduates from Rochelle Township High School this spring.
Ricketts revealed this past weekend that he will be playing football and studying business administration, psychology and Spanish at Central College in Pella, Iowa next year. The senior will follow the footsteps of his two older brothers Jacob and Adam, who both played for the Hubs and went on to have successful college careers.
Jacob, who played football at Dubuque University, currently works as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Temple University football program. Adam is in his senior year at Saint John’s University in Minnesota, where he played four seasons with the Johnnies.
“Greg comes from a football family and it was reflected in the way he prepared and ultimately how he played,” Rochelle head coach Kyle Kissack said. “He’s coachable and reliable, and he’s a great leader. He’s completely invested in what it takes to be successful and that’s a great foundation for him to build on as he starts his collegiate career. I’m really proud of Greg and what he’s accomplished.”
Ricketts played four years of football at Rochelle, spending three seasons with the varsity team. He earned his first start at outside linebacker as a junior, splitting time with several teammates before becoming a full-time starter his senior season. He earned All-Conference First Team recognition from the Northern Illinois Big 12 this year as well.
“I’m looking forward to playing with and against guys who are all good players,” Ricketts said. “I will be playing the bandit position, or outside linebacker, where I’ll primarily be in coverage. It’s a similar position that I played in high school, and I believe that I will be able to continue having great pre-snap reads. I hope I can improve my tackling so that, once I get a hold of somebody, there are fewer yards after contact.”
Ricketts became interested in Central College when the program’s defensive coordinator, Nick Mulder, spoke to him and his teammates this past season. After going on an overnight visit to the school and speaking with one of the school’s business professors, Ricketts knew he had found his new home.
“Coach Mulder didn’t just drill us with statistics about the school,” Ricketts said. “He just saw down with us and had a conversation, and that’s when I knew he was different. When I went on my overnight visit, I realized how well I fit in with the other guys, and I recognized that Central was the place I wanted to be.”
Ricketts is one of four Rochelle football players who have committed to playing next season, joining fellow seniors Ben Redington (UW Eau Claire), James Hart (North Central College) and Noah Knight (Norwich University). Ricketts said that one specific quote he heard from a coach in the past helped him improve the most throughout his time at RTHS.
“‘It’s OK to be slow, but not stupid and slow,’” Ricketts said. “I’ve taken that quote to heart, and I believe playing at Rochelle has allowed me to become a smarter football player who plays with a certain technicality rather than recklessly… I want to become a football coach myself and I believe Central will give me a well-rounded education that will allow me to be prepared for my coaching career and anything else that comes at me.”