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Prospect Profile: 2024 CB Desmond Ricks of IMG Academy

Defining the talents of Desmond Ricks, one of the top 2024 recruits in the nation.

BRADENTON, Fla. - One of the truly special players from IMG Academy is making a run at being the No. 1 player in the class of 2024. Here’s the breakdown of his game and what he’s capable of doing.

Desmond Ricks

Desmond Ricks Cornerback Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy - 2024

Desmond Ricks, Cornerback, IMG Academy

Size: 6’1”, 180-pounds

Position: Cornerback

School: Chesapeake (Va.) / Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy

Class: 2024

Recruitment

Offers from across the country. Pittsburgh, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Virginia, North Carolina State, Florida State, Miami, Florida, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas, Oregon, and Southern Cal among others.

Opening Thoughts

If there’s a smoother long and tall cornerback in the class of 2024, that’s one heck of an athlete. That was obvious during the IMG Academy Pro Day (Feb. 17), just for starters. Here's the video reel from Ricks' Pro Day:

While evaluating Ricks again during the intrasquad scrimmage (May 19), more is being understood about his abilities. Ricks glides across the gridiron. He’s also a very confident cornerback, as Ricks is not nearly as “grabby” as many other cornerbacks at the same stage of their careers; he actually relies on his technique to make plays. He often tries to stay just underneath the wide receiver to provide himself with leverage for whenever the receiver attempts to break down and make a sharp cut; Ricks is often waiting. His savvy play helps him gain pass breakups and interceptions.

For a look at some of the top 2023 IMG prospects, go here: Prospect Profiles, IMG Academy.

Athleticism

Ricks bends and changes direction like an elite cornerback should. He’s very athletic in practically every way possible. His athleticism definitely helps him make plays even when the wide receiver honestly does a good job of getting open. He can jump, accelerate, plus stop and start like few cornerbacks can.

Power

Another facet of Ricks’ game that continues to grow stems from strength and mass. He’s no longer in the 170-pound range. Ricks is likely closer to 180-pounds. With more muscle on his long frame now, it’s helping him reroute receivers and also fight for the ball with more success. He’s about as well rounded a rising junior as one could ask, and there’s still many things to work on and the time is there to accomplish those tasks with two more seasons of high school football for Ricks to complete.

Learning the Cornerback Position

Ricks is a quick study. He goes through a drill once, learns from it, and then applies it during the next rep. He’s so smooth while he’s moving, perhaps that is why it’s so easy to notice this fact. Watch his transitions during defensive back drills:

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While no cornerback is going to consistently shut down today’s passing spread receivers, Ricks gives a defense a big-time cornerback that can make critical plays at the most opportuned times. That’s about all one can ask. Of all the traits Ricks does well, his fluid backpedal is probably No. 1. With that, one additional category to note.

Versatility

Which position(s) does Ricks play at the college level? The traditional cornerback position, absolutely. Playing inside at the slot cornerback position, that’s also potentially coming into play against teams that use a variety of slot receivers.

It takes a truly skillful (and strong) cornerback to play in the slot because sometimes there’s a tight end playing in the slot instead of the typical smaller and shiftier receiver. Good luck to the normal cornerback that tries to defend a powerful 260-pound tight end. Ricks cannot overpower that player, but his athleticism and length combined with strong hands at the point of attack at least give him a chance to be competitive unlike most cornerbacks. He could also potentially play free safety, if need be.

Area to Improve

Just stick to the grind and watch film of his competition, as well as his own reps, to become better. The elite pro cornerbacks know that becoming better happens on and off the gridiron. Film is a part of that. In short, it’s more about the mental than the physical for Ricks. He’s a physically rare talent. Now it’s about refining his natural skills and becoming as productive as possible

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