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Star back commits to NC State amidst family tragedy

Ricky Person, a four-star recruit, commits to the Wolfpack in a promise to his dying grandmother

NCAA Football: Independence Bowl-North Carolina State vs Vanderbilt Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Once he completes another football season at Wake Forest Heritage High School, the next stage of Ricky Person’s so-far stellar career will take place at NC State. The four-star recruit announced his commitment to the Wolfpack in a mid-January posting on Twitter.

The 6-2, 200-pound Person, who’s considered the top recruit in North Carolina, had also considered playing at either Duke or South Carolina. On a national level, Person is also highly thought of, receiving scholarship offers from schools like Louisville and Tennessee. On some national recruiting websites, Person is considered to be the 11th-best recruit for the Class of 2018.

One of the keys to Person’s ultimate decision was his close relationship with Des Kitchings, an assistant for State. The Wolfpack may have come perilously close to losing the chance to get Person since Kitchings had originally accepted the head coaching position at Furman. However, second thoughts caused him to change his mind and stay with the Wolfpack.

A poignant aspect to Person’s announcement was the fact that earlier in the month, he had first announced his intentions to his terminally ill grandmother. As she lay dying, a tearful Person made a commitment to live up to the principles that she had instilled in him over the course of his life.

Her death is not the first that Person has had to deal with, having seen his grandfather die prior to the start of ninth grade. In addition, Person’s previous time at Franklinton High School saw him have to handle the death of an assistant coach.

Person’s talent first emerged as a sophomore at Franklinton as he reached the end zone 16 times and rushed for 1,074 yards. However, off-the-field circumstances along with a desire to play against a higher-caliber opponent resulted in Person transferring to Heritage prior to the start of this past school year.

The transition to Heritage was fairly seamless for Person, who ended up rushing the ball 145 times for 774 yards and collecting 11 scores on the season. He stayed busy by also seeing time on the defensive side of the ball, bring down 17 ball carriers, collecting 1.5 sacks and also forcing one fumble. He did miss a pair of games due to injury, yet played a key role in 12 of the contests during Heritage’s 11-3 campaign.

That versatility could potentially lead Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren to consider moving Person into another role. Instead of rejecting such an idea, Person is ready to adapt to whatever is needed when he arrives in the summer of 2018.

The idea that Person is only focused on athletics can be dismissed by looking at his academic record. He currently has a 3.5 grade point average and is looking forward to majoring in broadcasting while also playing for the Wolfpack. That NC State program ended up being one of the many factors that played a role in the final decision that he made.