Ricky Person Jr. wanted to play against the best to prepare himself for the college level. He had to make a move and a decision that was best for him and his family.
This involved having to transfer from Franklinton High School in Franklinton, North Carolina to Heritage High School in Wake Forest, North Carolina shortly before his junior year began.
“The toughest thing I had to overcome was leaving my friends and the people I grew up playing football with. When I was back at Franklinton, I grew up with the boys ever since recreational league. Ever since [then], we grew up playing football together all the way up to high school. So it was real hard just leaving them like that and me just going off to do better things for myself. I had to get used to the boys at Heritage and everything else so it was hard for me,” Person Jr. said.
Ricky Person Jr. is a Louisburg, North Carolina native who enjoys hunting and working out in his spare time. He said if playing football doesn’t work out or he can’t do something related to football in his future, he wants to get his master’s degree in either broadcast journalism or architecture because he wants to be a sportscaster or own his own construction business one day.
He started to realize his talent as a football player in the seventh grade. That was when he received interest from Jeremy Buck, varsity coach at Franklinton in 2012. Person Jr. said that he started working out with the Franklinton varsity football team for a while and got his first football scholarship from UNC Charlotte in that same period.
Ricky Person Jr., at six-foot-two, 205 pounds, is a four star 2018 running back. He is ranked the 150th best player nationally, the seventh best athlete and sixth best player in North Carolina according to the 247Sports Composite.
He has high interest in NC State, Duke and South Carolina because those are the only schools that have shown high interest in him. He has also received interest from Clemson, Notre Dame, Florida State and Tennessee as they have been in contact with him he said.
“Like my mom and dad always say, if nobody’s talking to you, that’s when you should worry but I’ve been getting a whole lot of attention so everything’s been going well,” Person Jr. said of his recruiting process.
He plans to make his commitment decision sometime during the summer or during his senior season.
“What I’ll be looking for is, is that school the right fit for me?, how the facility is, the academics for that school, the graduation rate of the football team, what’s the team GPA and the last thing is the relationship with the coaches. Most people have that come first but that comes last for me. I just want to get a feel of the school first because everything else will fall into place. If that’s really your school, you will know right when you step on the campus and you’ll know the relationship with the coaches will be really good. That’s what matters to me anyway.”
His Running Backs Coach, Willie Parker who played collegiate football at North Carolina and spent five NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, said that Ricky’s senior year will be a big year for him. He said in addition, that Person Jr., did a great job of adjusting and getting accustomed to the big jump and pressure that comes along with going up from Class 2A to Class 4A football.
“He’s definitely a great athlete and he’s going to make some more plays but I think he’s getting more comfortable with that transition now. This year is going to be a big year for him and the game is going to come to him. I feel he’s going to be an asset like he was last year,” Parker said.
On and off the field, Ricky Person Jr. likes to help others. This includes showing leadership by keeping his teammates focused in the classroom and on the field in addition to helping his cousin who is a head coach for the recreational league association. Person Jr. helps with the running backs on the field but off the field his contribution is a lot more meaningful.
“I’m also a part of the NFL Prep Academy and the first year I was there, we went up to Philadelphia and we helped pack toys because it was around Christmas time. We were helping packing the toys, cleaning the toys and helping to get them ready [to be] shipped off for the kids. I do a lot, I give back to my community a whole lot.”
With his teammates, he’s not a guy who is very vocal but he speaks when it’s needed.
“I’m not the type of guy to let you fail because I want to see everybody succeed.”
The Heritage Huskies have a coaching staff with college and NFL playing experience. Their Head Coach, Dewayne Washington, played collegiate football at NC State and played corner back for 11 NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs.
NFL Hall of Fame Semifinalist and Heritage Huskies Wide Receivers Coach Torry Holt played collegiate football at NC State and played 10 years in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams and one season with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1999-2009.
Person Jr. said that he battled injuries (broken hand and high ankle sprain) in his first season with the Huskies. He played hurt because he wanted to show people he loved the game.
In 12 games las season, Person Jr. ran 774 yards (5.3 yards per carry) on 145 carries and 11 touchdowns. He had three 100 yard games. He has 1,096 all-purpose yards in his career so far. The Heritage Huskies went 11-3 (5-2 Division) in 2016.
“His final season─ I’m looking at, the kid should have probably 2,000 all-purpose yards. I know he has lofty goals for himself. We have lofty goals for him too. In the amount of times he will touch the ball, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be at that 2,000 yard number or whether it’s pass catching or running the ball,” Washington said.
He also believes that Ricky Person Jr. will be a double digit sack player for Heritage at defensive end and outside linebacker but his health is going to be a factor in all of that.
Person Jr. said that he loves having the ball in his hands but as long as he is on the field he doesn’t care what position he plays.
“The best part of my game is I can be a dual-threat because you know, most running backs can’t go out into the backfield and catch the ball, that’s [a weakness] for most running backs. I can lineup in the slot with my height and my hands, I can lineup as a wide receiver or as a slot wide receiver and spread the defense out. We have a mobile quarterback so that’s just a plus for us and just helps us out a whole lot.”
He has to work on everything he said in order to be a complete football player and when he goes to college camps, he works on running lower, blocking and his footwork.
“What I like most about playing at Heritage is the coaching staff first of all. They played in the NFL and they know what it takes. They know what you have to do to go to the NFL because it’s just not given to you. You can be the best player out ever, that’s not going to get you to the NFL. They’re working us like they would be worked [out] in the NFL or college so that’s what I like most about Heritage,” Person Jr. said.
Ricky Person Jr. wants to be remembered as the guy who excelled in practice and bought it into the game. He believes practice is where a player’s A game starts to develop.
“You practice hard, you play hard.”