Saint Francis receiver Dan Ricksy emerges as flashy weapon

Saint Francis receiver Dan Ricksy hauls in a pass along the sidelines in the Cougars' win over Northwestern last Saturday. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of News-Sentinel.com)
Saint Francis receiver Dan Ricksy (7) reaches back for a catch during the Cougars' win over Northwestern (Iowa) last Saturday at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of News-Sentinel.com)
Dan Ricksy, right, protects the ball after making a key catch against Benedictine on Nov. 11 at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of News-Sentinel.com)
Saint Francis receiver Dan Ricksy leaps for a catch in a game earlier this season. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of News-Sentinel.com)
Saint Francis receiver Dan Ricksy celebrates a touchdown catch during the Cougars' win at Marian on Sept. 30 in Indianapolis. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of News-Sentinel.com)

Don’t let University of Saint Francis sophomore wide receiver Dan Ricksy’s size fool you. He’s making as many big plays as anyone on the roster.

Ricksy is listed as 5-foot-10, 178 pounds, but he looks lighter. Or maybe that’s just the fact he seems to possess the speed of “The Flash” in the “Justice League” movie. Ricksy accelerates off the line of scrimmage. There’s a blur. Then he’s in the end zone.

“He’s unbelievable,” quarterback Nick Ferrer said. “His route-running is spot on. On his second touchdown (against Northwestern last Saturday), he’s getting held and he gets off it, and I’m waiting for him to come back in, and he does, and I hit him in stride.”

The touchdown Ferrer describes was the second of the game for Ricksy, who finished the 30-3 win over Northwestern (Iowa) with four catches for 111 yards and was named offensive player of the game.

“The first one he caught a little behind him,” Ferrer said. “The guy almost got in there, but he stuck his arm out and made a play. He’s really good. He’s a technician.”

No. 1 Saint Francis (12-0) plays No. 3 Morningside (13-0) at noon Saturday in the NAIA semifinals. The winner will face the Southern Oregon (12-0) vs. Reinhardt (11-0) winner in the national title game Dec. 16 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

RELATED: Five keys for Saint Francis’ NAIA semifinal game

Ricksy’s rise as a major offensive threat increased after he returned from an ankle injury suffered after his breakout game against St. Ambrose on Sept. 16. In the Week 3 win, Ricksy caught 11 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns. The four touchdowns tied a school single-game record set by Jeremy Dutcher, who had three four-touchdown games in his career.

Ricksy, from Lafayette, returned to action two weeks later with 10 catches for 146 yards and a score in a win at Marian. He missed the next game against Concordia.

Considering Ricksy missed two games, his season numbers are even more impressive.

Ricksy has 63 receptions for 1,060 yards and 10 touchdowns. His yards and touchdown receptions lead the team and his receptions are second to Sean Boswell’s 66. He has had five games with at least 100 yards receiving this season.

“He’s a great athlete,” Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley said. “He’s got some great coaching. He’s bought into it. He’s doing the things we’ve asked him to do.”

Ricksy’s season total yardage now ranks sixth in school history, and he joined Dutcher and Seth Coate as Saint Francis receivers who have compiled more than 1,000 yards in a season. Dutcher went over 1,000 yards three times and Coate twice. Coate set the single-season record with 1,693 yards last season. Dutcher holds the single-season receptions record (88 in 1999) and Coate set the TD standard (25 last season).

Ricksy’s emergence, along with the consistency of Boswell (66 receptions, 863 yards, four touchdowns) and backups Will Chrisman and Duke Blackwell, helped the Cougars’ passing offense thrive while receiver Rocky James was down with an injury. James has 49 receptions for 742 and seven touchdowns in eight games.

“Rocky stated off the season amazing, going strong,” Ricksy said. “When he went out, it turned me into a little bit of the primary receiver. That got my catches up and my confidence going strong.”

Ferrer’s receiving corps should be at its healthiest in several weeks heading into the showdown with Morningside.

“When you’ve got Dan and Rocky outside and that stable of insider receivers with Sean and Duke, it’s huge,” Ferrer said.

SAINT FRANCIS SINGLE-SEASON RECEIVING YARDAGE

1. Seth Coate 1,693 (2016)

2. Jeremy Dutcher 1,547 (2000)

3. Jeremy Dutcher 1,472 (1999)

4. Jeremy Dutcher 1,278 (1998)

5. Seth Coate 1,225 (2015)

6. Dan Ricksy 1,060 (2017)

7. Cam Smith 923 (2015)

8. Cam Smith 921 (2013)

9. Jarod Clodfelter 898 (2010)

10. Bo Thompson 892 (2006)

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