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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Nikolas Ricks, OLB, University of Central Missouri

Nikolas Ricks the rangy linebacker prospect from Central Missouri recently sat down with us at NFL Draft Diamonds

•       Name: Nikolas Ricks

        •       Height: 6’2

        •       Weight: 223

        •       Position: OLB

        •       College: University of Central Missouri

        •       Twitter: @Nikolasricks

Tell us about your hometown, and what you love most about it?

        •    I’m from Akron, Ohio. Which is located in the Northeast Ohio region of the state. It gets cold in the winter up there and sometimes unbearably hot in the summer. There’s tons of good food up there to. From places like Swensons which is an unbelievable burger spot, to Wally Waffle which is no question my favorite breakfast place. The thing I love most about my hometown is that it instills a work ethic in you. If you want to become anything, weather that be a doctor, nurse, garbage man, teacher, football player, whatever it may be. Making it to that profession you have to put in that much more work to make it out. The city of Akron gives you a chip on your shoulder. Not a negative one but one that helps you push that much harder than anyone else. Anyone from Akron, Ohio wants to make not just themselves of their family proud, but to also give hope to the city of Akron. 

List these three in order of importance and why: Film Study, Strength and Conditioning and Practice?

        •        They are all very important and go hand and hand with one another. I would say that film study should be on top because if you don’t know what you are doing or what to expect from the opponent you cannot play. Then strength and Conditioning because that’s where you get better physically. Practice third because if you have done everything you need to do with the other two practice is just football. That’s something that you’ve been doing most of your life to this point. You just can’t waste reps ever.

What do you worry about, and why?

        •        I worry about my daughter Mylen Shea Ali Ricks, and my family. Every day I get up I ask myself how or what I am going to do today that will get me a step closer to making their lives better. I will be the one that changes the family tree. No matter how long it will take or no matter what I will go through, I will suffer for their happiness. My daughter is 2 years old now. Being away from her with college and football is rough. I get through it though by knowing everything I am working towards is going to make her life better than the one I lived while growing up. I also worry about my granny and aunt. They helped my dad raise me a tremendous amount. When I was little I used to always tell them “I’m going to get us out of these hard times.” I still tell them that to this day because I owe those two women my life and there’s not a doubt in my mind I will fulfill that promise.

Give me an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?

        •   I went to Junior College in Iowa and achieved a goal of mine which was playing at an FBS program. That program was the University of Buffalo. Due to me having a daughter and doing my best to accommodate her needs from her father, I choose to walk away from what I had worked so dearly for to step up and be there for her. In my eyes I had failed my family and my daughter because I had seen Buffalo as our last road until I could take care of everyone. I also felt that I had failed my teammates and coaches at Buffalo as well. They were great people and I still talk to some of those guys till this day. When I went back to Iowa, My Junior College coach Jesse Montalto went out of his way to bring me back and give me a chance to play football and get school paid for. While also allowing me to be there for my daughter. I took that opportunity and transformed it into another football scholarship to UCM. Thank you Coach Montalto it still means the world to me and my little girl!

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

        •   If you asked my teammates they would say my perseverance. All my guys know what I’ve had to deal with and respect it and uplift me as well. They know no matter what I will come in and work through anything so I can be the best version of me for them.       

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?

        •       This is tough because I’ve been blessed to play against so many great players in game and at practice. Jamarius Way I would have to say. He played WR with me at JUCO. I say Way because whenever it was 1 Offense VS 1 Defense we always found a way to compete. We ran a 4-2-5 at my JUCO so at times he would sneak into slot and I would have to cover him and even when he was assigned to block me we wanted to do nothing but beat one another. Glad my guy is doing his thing at South Alabama now!

What would your career be if you couldn’t play football? 

        •        I would be a sports agent. I’m majoring in Criminal Justice at UCM and I want to take that degree and get into pre law and get my BAR exam done. That way I could represent my clients as an agent and lawyer. 

Room, desk, and car – which do you clean first?

        •       Room has to be spotless. I don’t have a desk or car but we will get there. Believe that!

If there was a disaster and you could either save three strangers or one family member, which would you choose and why?

        •      This is a tough one because I care so much for my family. At the end of the day though, I would save the three strangers. I’d save them because I know that is three families that will lose someone very important. My family also would expect that out of me because I know they would do the same thing if they were in that situation. We help others as much as possible, the rest we let god sort out.  

If you could be any television or movie character, who would you be and why?

        •    I would be Apollo creed. I say that because if you have seen both movies you witness the improbable rise of a great sports figure and the fall of one to. Apollo’s whole attitude is he never turns away from competition or any man and he will literally die before he fails. The best part is, it shows you how you can fall and completely reinvent yourself and be stronger then you were before.     

Tell me about your biggest adversity in life and how you’ve dealt with or overcome it?

        •    My biggest adversity in life I would say is in the Fall of 2015 I had come back to Akron, Ohio due to a back injury delaying my Junior College process. When I got back to Akron, the house I came to was not the house I left. Our main water pipe in the house broke flooding absolutely everything in the home and the house was in the process of being condemned. No one was supposed to be living in it. However two of my cousins and I had nowhere else to go. So as I rehabbed my back, I and my cousins would work endless hours in construction trying to make enough money for three of us to survive in a house we were not supposed to be in. I used to walk 3.2 miles to my job and from it to get home. The only way we could cook was by lighting charcoal in an old barrel grill in the backyard and whatever we cooked had to be eaten that day because we had no fridge. To stay in shape I had to catch a 5 am bus to the bus station. Transfer to the 6 am bus that took me to Canton, Ohio. Workout with my mentor Charles Quincy till about 8:30-9am. Shower at my high school, then catch the bus back to Akron. Work whatever construction my boss Dave had for me then shower at a friends if possible and walk to work. Work till the mall closed and walked back. I did this every day for 6 months straight. The way I overcame that was knowing in my mind how bad I wanted for my future children to never have to go through this, and how I was going to change my family’s life.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

        •   In the third grade my mom accidently dropped her hair dye in my hair. It turned one of my curls blonde and I thought it looked cool. So I let her die my whole head and I went back to my dad’s and school and got clowned bad.     

What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

        •    When I was in JUCO we had to block an extra point and return it to give our offense a chance to win the game. My teammate Devon Russel flew off the edge and blocked the kick. My other Teammate Elijah Jones picked the ball up and began to return the blocked kick. I ran as fast as humanly possible to cutoff the last two guys that could have gotten Elijah so that he could get the ball in the end zone to give us a chance to win.    

What song best describes your work ethic?

        •        H.A.M (Jay-Z & Kanye West)    

What is the most important trait you can have (Physical or Non-Physical) to help you succeed at the next level? 

        •    Competiveness. We as people compete for everything in this world. There is not a single person on this earth I don’t believe I can’t tackle, or mentally get them off their game because of how hard I come every play. I will not be beat. Weather you’re my teammate or you’re on the other team I won’t stop until my heartbeat does. 

If you could bring one person back from the dead for one day, who would it be and why?

        •   It would be my grandfather on my dad’s side of my family. I would ask him if I was walking the right path and if not guide me. If I become 5% of the man he was that in itself would be the biggest achievement in my life besides being my daughter’s father. Nathan Eric Ricks Sr. Was so well respected in our city. Not just our city but our family. Everything I have ever heard about him was how he took care of family, relentless hours of work he put in, and how he demanded and got the upmost best out of every person he came in contact with. It makes me proud to be able to share the same last name as him.      

If you were to open a dance club, what would you name it? 

        •   Roll Bounce ( No Skates)      

Who is the most underrated player in the NFL? 

        •    Chris Jones the DT for the Kansas City Chiefs. The man had 15.5 sacks as an interior Defensive lineman which was third in the NFL. He also came in at fifth in the top 5 for qb hits and TFLS. My guy got pro bowl snubbed. That should have been a crime.   

Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?

        •      I’d rather be respected. I say that because I believe once you gain someone’s respect they can count on you to get things done. Whereas yea I can be liked but can the guy playing next to me count on me cause he likes me? It doesn’t work like that for me.  

What player who had his career derailed by off-field issues do you feel for the most and why?

        •     Aldon Smith. He played for the Missouri Tigers in college and the 49ners and Raiders in the league. To this day I believe he would have went down as one of the best defensive players of all time had he stayed on the right path. I feel for him most because of what killed his career. Alcohol killed his career and in my family addiction to drugs and alcohol is a big problem. A lot of people who don’t understand addiction will point fingers and say he tarnished his on legacy because he couldn’t lay off the booze. When in reality a lot of us do not know what he was battling. Whether it be the fame he was developing or the money. We just simply don’t know unless we are in his circle. Most people in this world I feel can get a pretty good vibe if someone is a good person or not. Aldon Smith I can never remember really gave off that impression as a jerk. I still hope to this day we get to see Aldon Smith on the field again. It would be awesome if I got to play with him and just listen to the wisdom he has obtained from everything he has been through.   

Do you love to win, or hate to lose?

        • I hate to lose because anytime I do I feel like my whole family loses when I do. I also know how much I put into this. Also I never want to let my teammates down. When we lose I feel like I do. We put way to much work in to lose.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life and explain why?

        •      The biggest influence on my life has been Nathan Eric Ricks. He is my father and the things we went through when it was just me and him I am astonished. My father had a full stroke and lost the function of the entire right side of his body. He called me from the hospital and acted as if everything was normal until I got back into the state. When I was told and got to the hospital I asked why he had not said anything to me. He told me “ Son life is short to enjoy yourself you think some stroke will stop me haha please.” I watched my father in four months rehab himself so he could go back to work for his family in six months. The only reason he did not go back right away to work at the four-month mark was that his job told him he needed the rest. When I was little and it was just me and him a Christmas came where he sat me down three days before Christmas and told me “Son I am not going to be able to get anything for you for this Christmas because the car note is due, I’m sorry son.” He cried right in front of me and I just hugged him and said “Dad it is okay I really do understand.”  Christmas Eve came and we were watching a movie together and he just turned and looked at me and said “Son get up were going somewhere.” That man took me to GameStop and told me to get whatever I wanted. I and the workers inside were blown away. I asked him “Dad but the car!?” all he said was “Do not worry about that son merry Christmas.”  The next three weeks I stayed with my aunt and grandma because my dad worked for 20 days straight to get enough money to go to the auction so we had a car. I did not know until I was 18 years old that the car was reposed the same day my Dad took me to my aunt and grandma. Through the numerous trails and tribulations he has taught me to never quit. You are only down for however long you allow yourself to be down. No matter what anyone says you can do what you want when you want and how you want. People will laugh and sometimes even scoff at you but the reality of it is they just can’t see your dreams and goals. It’s up to you to prove them wrong and yourself right. I love you Dad thank you for everything.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at [email protected]

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