Alabama football's impressions of LSU transfer Eli Ricks: 'Real positive addition'
Alabama football's success on the early signing day in December extended past high school players.
In addition to signing the No. 2 recruiting class in 2022, according to 247Sports Composite, the Crimson Tide received a commitment from Eli Ricks, a former LSU cornerback who had placed his name in the transfer portal.
Alabama could have used him last season with its cornerback depth depleted in late 2021, but Ricks will also be valuable this season. He was the No. 2 player in 247Sports' transfer portal rankings when he announced his decision Dec. 15, and he brings SEC experience.
"He's a good, solid DB," Alabama defensive back Brian Branch said Tuesday. "I feel like he has great technique and he has the skillset to be one of the best corners in the league."
As a freshman in 2020, Ricks earned a spot on the coaches All-SEC second team and Associated Press All-Freshman team. He also made the AP's All-America third team that season.
He intercepted four passes that season, including two touchdowns.
Ricks played in only six games in 2021. Alabama coach Nick Saban said Ricks is coming off a shoulder injury, which made him unable to do anything for a while. He began his return during the offseason program with the Crimson Tide. Saban also said Ricks lost weight but is gaining it back.
"An experienced player who understands how to play the game," Saban said. "He's picking up things and doing a good job out there. So it's a real positive addition to our team."
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Ricks is in competition with cornerbacks Kool-Aid McKinstry and Khyree Jackson, both of whom started the College Football Playoff championship game against Georgia. Josh Jobe and Jalyn Armour-Davis dealt with injuries in the postseason after starting for most of the year. Both have moved onto the NFL Draft.
McKinstry and Jackson have a head start on studying the playbook and the defensive system, but Ricks is working hard to catch up.
Linebacker Henry To'oTo'o said Ricks asks a lot of questions. He has picked To'oTo'o's brain about keys to transferring successfully after the former Tennessee linebacker gained a starting spot in his first season with the Crimson Tide in 2021.
"He works really, really hard," To'oTo'o siad. "Ever since he came in Day 1, he wanted to learn."
The linebacker said whenever he is in the training room, Ricks is always there.
"It's the little things like that," To'oTo'o said, "that you kind of take note of players like that and know he's going to be a good addition to the program."
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly