Interview With Clemson DE Ricky Sapp: The Most “Boring” Prospect in the 2010 NFL Draft
It is Saturday night and Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp is home hanging out with his family. He receives a call from a teammate. “Ricky, there’s a new club opening up downtown. Let’s hit it up.”
“No thanks,” Ricky says softly. “I’m spending time with my family tonight.”
“Whatever Ricky,” responds the teammate. “You’re so boring.”
And you know what? He’s right. Ricky Sapp is ‘boring.’ He’s boring in the same way as Demarcus Ware. In the same way as Jason Witten. In the same way as Felix Jones.
In the NFL, it is good to be boring. Of course we aren’t talking about ‘boring’ as in being uninteresting. No, Ware, Witten, Jones and Ricky Sapp are all far from uninteresting.
‘Boring’ in the NFL means doing your job the right way. Not talking a lot. Being focused. Being driven. That is this league’s version of ‘boring.’
Ricky Sapp fits the bill. We featured his on-field play in a recent edition of “Cowboys Potential Draft Picks.” There, we mentioned how some teams are scared of Sapp’s injury history (he tore his ACL in 2008) and lack of elite strength (by what standard Sapp’s 23 bench press reps are not ‘elite’ is beyond me). Sapp acknowledged this, telling me “I know some teams think that (I can’t stop the run) but at the end of the day I know I can be an every-down player.”
The significance of these knocks on Sapp’s game are dampened by his work ethic and determination. He played the 2009 season on a knee he described as “60 percent” so that he could be on the field to fight with his teammates. After the season, he trained like a monster so he could regain full strength in the knee and prove to NFL teams he is 100 percent healthy.
Said Sapp, “My main goal (for the Combine) was to let everyone know I am 100 percent healthy. I worked on getting stronger and making sure my speed was top-notch by training twice a day, six days a week.”
When I asked him if teams were satisfied with his health, Sapp responded, “Yes sir. I definitely think the teams were pleased with my knee.”
“Yes sir.” How many young men do you know who respond with such politeness? By my count, Sapp tallied nine “yes, sir” responses throughout our 15-minute conversation.
Now, does politeness win football games? Not directly, but being polite takes discipline. Football is 100 percent a game of discipline. The same discipline that goes into being polite is also the backbone of hard work and motivation. Disciplined players will work hard to improve themselves, both on the football field and in life.
Those are the sort of football players you want on your team. Ricky Sapp is undoubtedly one of them.
Sapp would be a good fit in Dallas. At 6’4”, 252 pounds, he ran a 4.61 at the Combine. He also told me he has experience playing in a scheme similar to the 3-4 defense which the Cowboys run. He said, “Over my career at Clemson I had a good bit of experience playing from a standing position and really enjoyed it.” Still, Sapp says he simply wants to play in “whichever system a team wants me in.”
However, he said he has had no contact with the Cowboys. Could the team be playing coy? Sapp sure hopes so, as he grew up (in South Carolina) as a die-hard ‘Boys fan. Said the Clemson Tiger, “Believe it or not, I grew up loving the Cowboys. My father is a die-hard fan of America’s Team and I just followed him. I loved them. Playing for the Cowboys would be a dream come true.”
At the end of the interview, I asked Ricky what he likes to do outside of football and he reiterated his non-flashy lifestyle. “Well don’t laugh at me but I’m probably the most boring guy you will ever meet,” he said with a laugh. “I’m really just a laid back guy. I like to hang out with my teammates and just enjoy life. I’m not really the party type. My friends give me a hard time about not going out, but I’ve never been like that.”
Sapp calls his personality ‘boring.’ I call it being polite. Honest. Hard-working. I call it being a good person.
Yes, I like boring. Boring is good.
Let’s hope the Cowboys have the most “boring” draft possible in 2010. Ricky Sapp would be a tremendous start.
Fast forward to the Cowboys’ draft “war room” later this month, and Jerry Jones is on the phone with the young South Carolina native. “Ricky, we just wanted to let you know we are going to go ahead and pick you right here.”
Sapp’s family sees a huge grin come upon his face. His dream is finally going to come true. Ricky Sapp is going to be a Dallas Cowboy.
“Thank you, sir,” he responds.
Want to hear more of what Ricky had to say? You can see more here.