ORONO, Maine — University of Maine senior quarterback Dan Collins calls defensive lineman Pat Ricard “the hardest working kid in the conference. Without a doubt.”
Ricard is coming off a game in which he was named the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Week.
Ricard, a preseason third-team All-American, made eight tackles, including a career-high three sacks, in UMaine’s 35-31 victory over Bryant University last Saturday.
Ricard said his work ethic stems from his father, Paul, and his older brother, Christian.
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“My dad built our house pretty much by himself. He cleared the land first. And he’s a plant manager, so it’s not something he does [for a living],” Ricard said. “The only things he didn’t do were the foundation, the plumbing and the electricity.
“The reason he couldn’t do the electricity is because he’s color blind,” Ricard said with a grin.
Christian Ricard was a walk-on rover at Stony Brook but eventually earned a scholarship and became a second-team All-American and first team All-CAA selection.
“For him to be able to do that, I felt I had to do the same. I knew it could be done. I had to follow in his footsteps,” Pat Ricard said.
Ricard was a first-team All-CAA choice last season when he led the conference in tackles for a loss (16.5) and ranked second in forced fumbles (3) and sixth in sacks (7). He was in on 53 tackles.
Through four games this season, he has been involved in 20 tackles, including a team-high 5.5 for loss.
“He is some football player,” said Bryant head coach Marty Fine. “He changed the game, at times, by himself.”
Ricard’s success also is a tribute to his resilience as he has overcome two knee surgeries and a shoulder procedure.
“Nothing has stopped him,” said Collins. “I have all the respect in the world for him. I think he will play at the next level [National Football League].”
Collins said Ricard is an intimidating figure and plays the final five minutes of a game “just like it was the first snap. He’s a high-effort guy. He leaves everything out there.”
“He takes great care of his body. He is the most flexible kid on the team, and his technique is something to watch,” said UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak.
Harasymiak said one of Ricard’s top attributes is his “hand violence,” and that also is quick, especially for someone who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 285 pounds.
“Once he plants his foot in the ground and makes his move, he is already accelerating toward the quarterback. There’s no wasted movement,” said Harasymiak.
Ricard was a tight end, fullback and linebacker at David Prouty High School in the Worcester, Massachusetts, suburb of Spencer. He led his team to the Super Bowl championship in 2009. He was a two-time Division II Defensive Most Valuable Player.
Former University of Connecticut defensive coordinator Don Brown, who also is from Spencer and is the defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan, offered him an opportunity to walk on as a defensive end at UConn.
“I told him I was going to visit Maine. He said if they offered me money, take it. It’s a free education,” said Ricard. “Maine isn’t too far from home … 4½ hours. It’s a legitimate Division I program.”
He said he likes living in a small town that’s close to a bigger city.
UMaine was the only Division I school to offer him a scholarship.
He had never played defensive line until he arrived at UMaine. He usually lines up between the tackles but also can be used at end.
“I redshirted my freshman year and had gained 15 pounds by February,” said Ricard. “[Defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro] told me it was startling how fast I was growing and developing and that he wanted to move me inside.
“I haven’t stopped growing. I’ve gained 10-15 pounds every year,” said Ricard, who played at 235 pounds in high school.
He loves playing on the defensive line.
“When you’re a defensive lineman, you’re so close to the ball, you can make a play every down,” said Ricard. “I like being physical.”
Ricard believes he has improved every season and noted that defensive coordinator Corey Hetherman, who was the defensive line coach last year, has really helped his game.
The Black Bears take a 1-3 record into Saturday’s CAA game at Delaware.
“I want to keep performing at a high level and help my team win every game. I want to have a good senior year. I don’t want us to have a record around .500 like we have the past two years [3-8 in 2015, 5-6 in 2014]. I want something like we had in 2013 [10-3],” said Ricard, who hopes to get a chance to play in the NFL.