As the Tigers prepare for their last regular season non-conference game on Saturday vs. Arkansas State, Ricks is doing what he can to try to show the Auburn coaching staff he is ready for more significant playing time than he has seen so far.
The defensive tackle from Colbert County High is third team on the depth chart behind Sen'Derrick Marks and Pat Sims and has seen very limited playing time. Ricks hopes that changes this week vs. the Indians.
"I am stepping it up in practice," he says. "I think Coach (Don Dunn) is liking what he sees and I am making a lot of progress.
"It is a big opportunity for me now," adds Ricks, who was named Alabama Class 3A Lineman of the Year as a high school senior. "Coach has me rotating in there with the ones this week in practice. It is a great chance for me to show the coaches what I can do out there on the field."
Ricks has played in five games this year, but has seen very limited action in those contests. He has been in on just one tackle, but managed to pick up a fumble and return it 31 yards in his first SEC game vs. Mississippi State.
Jermarcus Ricks runs with a fumble he recovered in Auburn's shutout victory at Mississippi State.
Ricks says he believes he has made progress as a player since early in the season. "I think I have improved on holding my gap better and using my hands a little bit more than I did in high school," he says. "I am hustling to the ball more. I am showing great effort."
A four-year starter in high school, he notes that he has had to make adjustments to the college game. "The biggest to me has been knowing the game speed and reading the offensive linemen from their stances and playing the blocks," he says.
The freshman notes he is still learning how to be an SEC defensive lineman. "I am trying to work on staying lower than I usually do," Ricks says. "I am trying to work more on my pass rush."
The big tackle, who stands six-foot-four, weighed 305 pounds earlier this year at the Alabama-Mississippi High School All-Star Game in Mobile. He currently checks in at 294. " I think that is a good weight for me because I can move better," he says.
The freshman hopes to get a chance to show what he can do on Saturday as the Tigers play Arkansas State for the first time ever in football. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium.