FRANKLINTON, N.C. --- Although versatility is typically seen as asset, it has convoluted North Carolina’s recruitment of Ricky Person. But, it hasn’t stopped a couple other ACC schools from offering the 6-foot-2, 196-pounder from Franklinton High.
“Ricky has the athleticism, he has the speed, he has the size, he has the football IQ, he has the toughness, [and] he’s not contact shy,” Franklinton head coach Jeremy Buck. “He has the ability to play, in my opinion, four different Division I spots. It’s just a matter of where the coaches want to put him. I could see him as an inside, outside linebacker, in the right fit maybe a strong safety, and of course any time the ball is in his hands at the running back position he can take it the distance. His hands are phenomenal – he plays centerfield for the baseball team, so he can track the ball in the air very well, also. His work ethic is tremendous – he’s one of the hardest working guys in the weight room. He loves the game. During the season, Ricky would text me before a game detailed questions that some of my assistant coaches hadn’t thought of.”
A starter since his freshman year, Person might be listed at running back in Franklinton's media guide, but he can be found at any skill position throughout a game. As a sophomore last season, he was the leading rusher (1,075 yards and ten touchdowns) and also led in receiving touchdowns (six).
“We moved him around,” Buck said. “He was our starting tailback, but we also had an all-conference running back so we were able to move Ricky around a little bit to receiver and even some quarterback.”
Defensively, Person started the season at free safety, since Franklinton’s schedule began with a couple of pass-heavy teams. But against run-first offenses, he was moved down to linebacker.
“It all goes back to the football IQ,” Buck said. “If we had to put him at defensive line, he would probably be our best defensive lineman. But he always knew what we needed no matter where he played and he didn’t necessarily have to practice a position in order to be efficient in a game.”
Last spring, Charlotte became the first school to put an offer on the table for Person. Duke and NC State then offered during the football season.
Person is also receiving looks from Clemson, East Carolina, North Carolina, Old Dominion, Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. Most of those schools are poised to offer during camp, according to Buck.
UNC, specifically, has been a little bit more cryptic on their thinking.
“I think they’re maybe trying to figure out what position,” Buck said. “Ricky is a ball player. As a high school guy, you hope that they would just offer him and figure [his position] out later.”
Some clarity was added to the situation when Person attended UNC’s most recent junior day a couple of weekends back.
“Coach [Larry] Fedora mentioned how interested he was,” Buck said. “I’m assuming that when we get on campus for the Freak Show and he’s able to compete, they’ll be able to figure out where he fits.”
Even more telling, Person’s visit itinerary included a meeting with Charlton Warren, UNC’s defensive back coach.
“We just had a good conversation,” Person said. “He was saying that if I do well at camp, they might make me into a DB.
“I just want to be on the field, to be honest with you. I don’t really have a favorite position. But, I know I could see myself probably playing wide receiver.”
The junior day was Person’s fifth visit to UNC. During the football season, he attended wins over Duke and North Carolina A&T.
“[Kenan Stadium] was real live,” Person said. “The student section was hyped up. It was easy to get into the game, because the atmosphere is always hyped.”
Person has also visited Duke, NC State, and Virginia Tech. He’s scheduled to return to Duke on March 5 for the basketball game against UNC. Afterwards, he’ll begin to work on a trip to East Carolina.
Duke and NC State have emerged as co-leaders for Person.
“I have a great relationship with their coaches,” Person said. “I stay in contact with them all the time.”
Person grew up a UNC fan… Person is a three-sport star at Franklinton, also playing baseball and basketball. He averaged eight points, six rebounds, and two assists on the hardwood this past season, and will bat cleanup – while playing centerfield – on the diamond this spring.