Rickett a Veteran on and off Field
At 22, Jeremy Rickett is a veteran on the football field for the Bluefield College Rams. He’s also a veteran away from the field.
August 24, 2012
Article by Brian Woodson of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Jeremy Rickett, a veteran on and off the field for BC football.
Rickett, a freshman linebacker from Mooresville, N.C., is a veteran of the Marines, having served for about seven months in Afghanistan in 2008, and later was part of a MEU that took him to such places as Japan, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
He is a now a member of the Marine reserves, but is working to earn his degree in sports psychology, all while playing football for the Rams.
“In the military, I wanted to serve my country, but it was also the only way I could afford college,” Rickett said. “That is when I found out about the new program here so I came here.”
Bluefield will play its first game since 1941 on Saturday, August 25 in a Mid-South Conference contest against the University of Pikeville at Mitchell Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. Rickett and the Rams will be ready.
“I am excited, I feel like the whole city is backing us,” Rickett said. “Our team is ready, we have been practicing hard since spring, we have got some great coaches with NFL experience and we are all ready.”
Rickett played football as a senior in high school, but didn’t immediately find his way to the next level. He decided to become one of the few and the proud.
“In high school I played cornerback, but in the Marine Corps I played linebacker and I just felt in love with it,” said Rickett, who was part of a football team in the Marines that played throughout California and even won a championship in Hawaii. “Just hitting people, that is the best part of football.”
College football was delayed by his career path in the military, which was planned before graduating high school at age 17.
“That was my dream,” Rickett said. He spent one stint of about seven months in Afghanistan, and joined the 31st MEU, which is a Marine Expeditionary Unit. Rickett traveled the world on a ship visiting different countries, and hopes to travel more as a sports psychologist when his military stint is eventually finished.
“Just being able to travel, the military made me fall in love with traveling,” Rickett said. “Being able to travel school to school and maybe be in the NFL and talk to the coaches and the players and help them with their problems and whatever they are going through.”
Of course, Rickett is planning a return to the military after college is done. “The inactive reserves last for the next four years, but I plan when I graduate to go back to the military for a while,” said Rickett, who finishes each comment with ‘yes, sir’. “I was raised by a good family, I was like this before, the military just imbedded it in me.”
Rickett was a Corporal M4 during his stint in Afghanistan, adding that he was ‘just going in and kicking in doors pretty much.’
“I went to Afghanistan in 2008 and that is when it pretty much first kicked off so it was real bad over there,” Rickett said. “We lost a lot of my brothers. It is not a fun place to be for anybody even now. I pray every night for my brothers now that are there.”
He was able to leave sooner than many, but certainly learned from the experience. “It was an eye-opener; it changed my perspective of the world and I think it helped me to grow up as a man,” Rickett said. “I just wanted to be home, but it just made me paranoid and aware of what is going on and anxious to return home to your family...I think it is getting better now. The Marines that I still talk to tell me they are bringing water and trying to build schools and helping.”
After finishing four years in the service, Rickett knew college was in his future, and soon realized that football could be as well.
“I had a couple of mutual friends from my high school that came here and they told me it was a good program and I am in love with football so I had to come,” Rickett said. He quickly made an impression on the Bluefield coaching staff, which will be playing the 5-foot- 8, 177-pound Ricketts at linebacker and all over the field on special teams.
“I just walked on, and every time we could volunteer to be on special teams, I raised my hand,” Rickett said. “Everything I could do, any playing time I can get I want.”
That kind of attitude definitely caught the eye of Bluefield College head coach Mike Gravier.
“He came here last spring and worked real hard in the offseason, had a really surprising good spring,” Gravier said. “We didn’t know what to expect out of him and he is a kid who is now on special teams.
“He hasn’t played in a while obviously because of his military commitment, but he has worked himself onto the field. That is what you hope kids will do is impress somebody and catch somebody’s eyes and he has definitely done that.”
Rickett is the second oldest player on the team behind 24-year-old James Goodman, but has fit right in.
“I enjoy the camaraderie of the team and the players, it is like a family,” he said. “I feel like I fit in perfectly, I am 5 or 6 years older than everybody so I take that as me being a natural leader so I try to step up and be there.
“It is a great feeling, I get respect and I appreciate that from everybody.”
Bluefield will open its season on Saturday against Pikeville, which is expected to throw the ball all over the field. As for the Rams, the Bears really don’t know what to expect. That is fine with Rickett.
“That is the best thing, we can watch film and do our homework on other teams, but they can’t do it on us so we have got a chance to come out and be whatever we make ourselves,” Rickett said. “Great or less than stellar, but I expect us to be great. It is going to be emotional for all of us.”
Rickett admits to not knowing a whole lot about the previous stints of Bluefield football from 1922-41, but he has been willing to learn.
“We try to do homework, there is not a lot of records from back then, but we feel like everything we do right now is brand new,” Rickett said. “We can be famous in a small city from our standpoint.”
He likes what he has seen in Bluefield since arriving last spring.
“Mooresville is a small town. Bluefield is even smaller if you can believe that, but I am used to the slow pace,” he said. “I came here directly from California, that is where I was stationed so it is a look different than what I am used to now.”
Bluefield might be a new football program, but the Rams are thinking big.
“Our goals as a team is to make it to the playoffs, it is our first year, but that is what we are focused on, all freshmen,” said Rickett, who will turn 23 on Sept. 29. “My goal personally is to be the best player that I can be, I will try to get 100 tackles maybe and a couple of interceptions. We are excited. I look forward to seeing the whole city in the stands and we want to get our first win.”
Looking for Rickett on opening day: His number is 9, for good reason. “My birthday is 9-29-89 so I figured 9 is my number,” he said with a smile.