March 29, 2012

Hard-hitting LB is Army bound and ready

Kyle Ricciardi has been a two-way starter of the Hudson (NY) Croton-Harmon varsity football team for the last four years, playing an inside linebacker, but also getting starting reps on the offensive lineman.

The 6-foot-2, 220 pounder and future Army Black Knight has been named All-League all of his four years at Croton Harmon, even after the school moved from Class C to the B level classification to start his junior season.

However, at Croton and where his first look in the Black & Gold will see Ricciardi getting his first audition is his familiar middle linebacker spot, although he also played offensive center, as well as being utilized as the team's utility offensive lineman.

And when you see Ricciardi on tape, it is apparent right from the beginning that he plays with a mean streak and has that Steve Anderson type of approach to each play, albeit that Ricciardi brings a little bit more size with his game. "In our defensive, it's primarily a 3-3 stack and I play inside linebacker," adds Ricciardi.

Very effective in his run stopping stuff ability, where Ricciardi has the flexibility to move to outside linebacker/defensive end. "You could also see me in pass coverage as well, but there's nothing better than stuffing a running back in the hole and putting him in the dirt," he shares.

Although the direct bound hard hitting linebacker never took an official visit to Army, living only 20 minutes away has allowed him more exposure to the West Point campus and Black Knights' football venue than most prospects that make up the 2012 recruiting class.

"I'm very excited about getting up to Army and getting things started," says who is working diligently to be ready the kick-off of his college career. "Right now I'm playing lacrosse this spring, so that is a great way for me to stay in shape. But the Army coaching staff sent me the incoming freshman workout booklet, so I've been doing that. And I'm lifting at the gym and I'm trying to maintain my strength, as well as my speed ... to stay in football shape."

"Of course it is the Army, so I need to be able to go on 15-mile marches and 3-mile runs .... so I have train and be ready for that also."

Coach Tripp left me a voice mail last week, but I haven't caught up with him yet.

Ricciardi's close proximity has allowed him the opportunity to be on campus on a number of occasions, which allowed for Ricciardi's exposure to Army football and West Point more tangible than most recruits. "I was up there for the Army-Northwestern game ... I believe it was September 17th," shares Ricciardi, as he recalls Army's win over the Wildcats of the Big Ten. "I was a good game and a lot of fun. It was awesome ... I've been on campus for lacrosse camps, lacrosse games but being in that stadium (Michie) with all the corp of cadets cheering on the team, it's unbelievable. And thinking in the back of mind that could be me some day and now that it's going to be a reality, it's even better."

So what was the deciding factor for Ricciardi's Army pledge? "I've been up there many time and seen many games ... I love being on the campus," states the New York native. "The way they work up there, all the things that they are about and I've always had an interest in the military, but Army specifically. So the chance to do that and play football is something that I could not pass up."

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