Ricks goes from walk-on to star linebacker at Old Dominion

NORFOLK (WAVY) – TJ Ricks was considered undersized coming out of Kecoughtan High School (Hampton), and didn’t receive a single major Division I offer.

“The journey’s been phenomenal,” said Ricks, now a star linebacker for Old Dominion who will wrap up his fifth and final season when the Monarchs (9-3) face Eastern Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl.

After redshirting in 2012, the now 6-foot, 240-pound Ricks went on to set the school record for tackles in a single game (18 against Charlotte in 2015) and tackles in a season (123 in 2015). He’s now second all-time in career tackles at ODU, and this past season, set another record with seven forced fumbles.

“It just took a whole lot of hard work, extra time in the weight room, extra time studying film,” said Ricks, who led the Monarchs with 93 tackles this season.

Ricks is one who normally leads by example rather than anything he shouts. “He don’t talk much, but when it’s time to play he turns it on,” said defensive tackle Rashaad Coward.

“When he’s on the field, you feel his presence. They don’t run the ball (Ricks’) way sometimes, and if they do, big mistake.”

And that’s been proven true through his 48 career games played, his 314 tackles, and his six quarterback sacks. Head coach Bobby Wilder believes Ricks’ football career won’t end in the Bahamas.