Old Dominion lands the former five-star recruit in Ricky Slade
The Penn State Nittany Lions have been a factory for NFL Draft prospects at the running back position. Starting with Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders and now Journey Brown looking to add to that legacy; Ricky Slade, however, has been the odd man out.
A former five-star recruit for the Nittany Lions, Slade failed to earn the starting role at Penn State, losing out to both Sanders and Brown in back to back seasons. Now entering his junior year, he heads to the Old Dominion Monarchs, where he can undoubtedly shine as the bellcow ball carrier.
While Slade is eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft, it would seem unlikely that he would enter barring a magnificent season with the Monarchs. Instead, he looks to make a name for himself, more than likely ride out the rest of his collegiate eligibility, then declare for the 2022 NFL Draft with a stronger portfolio.
How does transfer to ODU help his draft stock?
Slade joins first year head coach at Old Dominion, Ricky Rahne, who was the offensive coordinator at Penn State over the past two seasons. Reuniting with a familiar face, Slade has a chance to burst onto the scene as he already knows the offense the Monarchs are set to operate under.
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While the transfer to Old Dominion is a steep drop off in competition from the Big Ten, many Group-of-Five running backs have gone on to be high draft picks in the NFL Draft. Besides, less than 500 yards over the first two seasons with Penn State was not doing Slade any favors.
The 2018 NFL Draft featured San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny landing in the first round, Darrell Henderson and Alexander Mattison went in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft from Memphis and Boise State respectively, and Memphis’ Antonio Gibson (one of the more intriguing picks of the draft) and Appalachian State’s Darrynton Evans landed in the third round of the draft just this past April.
The path to being a top-100 pick or higher in the NFL Draft is not lost for a non-power five running back, it may just be a bit tougher. However, given the drop off in competition at Old Dominion, Slade must capitalize by putting together a highly enticing portfolio.
There has been no announcement as to whether or not Ricky Slade will be granted immediate eligibility. If he does not, he will look to declare as a redshirt junior in the 2022 NFL Draft, or as a redshirt senior the following year. The talent is there with the new Monarchs’ running back, now it is on him to prove he can handle an extended role.