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After giving up a season-high 385 passing yards to Tennessee last week, Alabama head coach Nick Saban decided some changes needed to be made in the secondary, which is where junior cornerback Eli Ricks came in. Ricks transferred to Alabama from LSU and was expected to be a huge piece in the Alabama secondary, but injuries and learning the Crimson Tide’s complex defense kept him from seeing the playing time that he desired.
Saturday, against Mississippi State, Ricks made his first start of the season, and he made it count. The Bulldogs tested Ricks a total of 10 times, only to be successful once for 19 yards. He had a team-high of four pass deflections and was in the Mississippi State receivers’ hip pockets on the rest of the pass attempts. His almost perfectly played game, and his excellent preparation in practice, earned him positive recognition from coach Saban, as well as the prestige honor of the Chuck Bednarik Award, an award given to the nation’s top defensive player of the week.
“I thought he did a good job,” Saban said after the Mississippi State game. “He gave up one throw. When you’re playing five under man, you’re supposed to be underneath the guy, so the guy shouldn’t be able to catch a comeback on you and caught one on him. Caught one on Kool-Aid on 4th and 10. But I thought he played well. He did a good job. He prepared well all week. I thought he played pretty well in the game.”
Ricks also received notice and praise from his teammates. Alabama linebacker Henry To’oTo’o noticed Ricks’ hard work he put into practice and had this to say about the cornerback.
"He's worked super hard and he's been in the playbook for a while now," To'oTo'o said. "I'm super excited about his journey and his adventure. He's a great player and I think as long as he puts his head down and grinds in our playbook and learns everything he needs to know, he's going to be one of the best cornerbacks."
With the performance Eli Ricks put up against Mississippi State, as long as he has a good preparation week during Alabama’s bye week, he should get the start against his former team when the Crimson Tide travels to Baton Rouge to take on LSU on November 5.
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