Pat Ricard remembers well the first time he thought he might have a shot at one day wearing an NFL uniform.
The Maine defensive lineman was a redshirt freshman, and there was a team workout being held indoors. There was a scout from the Indianapolis Colts on campus, and Ricard obviously noticed — but hardly expected the scout to be paying any attention to a lowly freshman. But the scout's eyes were locked on Ricard. Afterwards Maine defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro — a former NFL assistant — ran up to Ricard.
"Coach gave me a high five and said 'good job, he was scouting you'," Ricard told HERO Sports. "He was just looking at me beginning with when we were doing the stretch lines, and watched what I was doing that day. At that point I just tried as hard as I could to get to this point."
Ricard has been a true dirt dauber ever since, a true workhorse — a poster boy for Jack Cosgrove style Maine football. Cosgrove is the legendary coach who stepped down after the 2015 season and had built the base for the fine work that has been continued by now second-year coach Joe Harasymiak and his staff. Ricard said it is that coaching staff that has made Maine very relevant in a tough Colonial Athletic Association, and he said it is that staff that has help put players in the NFL.
Last year, linebacker Trevor Bates was taken, and guys like Kendall James and Jerron McMillian were drafted in the past few years. Then there's Justin Perillo and others who've gone the free agent route and found a home. Ricard and Christophe Mulumba-Tsiamanga want to add to that Maine legacy.
Maine may not the football hotbed that some other states are, but the Bears have been productive. Ricard is next, and NFL.com's Mock Draft from Sunday has him going in the seventh round like Bates did last year, while NFLDraftScout.com thinks 7th round or high priority free agent.
That'll happen when you turn heads with 33 reps of the 225-pound bench press — easily one of the top Pro Day marks in the FCS ranks. He also ran a 5.0 flat in the 40-yard dash, not too shabby for a 6-foot-3, 300-pound Black Bear on the line. He said the five-hour ride home to Massachusetts after Pro Day was a relaxing one — he'd done well, really well.
He has worked out for the Redskins, 49ers, Falcons, Colts, Bills and did the local day with the Patriots since he is a Massachusetts native. He also had one with the Dolphins scheduled, but a conflict kept it from happening. But the bottom line is? Teams are interested.
Oh, and as you can see from the list of NFL teams above — he has racked up some frequent flyer miles, although he did point out to HERO Sports that the teams paid for the travel, of course.
"At one point I literally drove to Logan Airport (in Boston) after the Patriots workout, and I flew to Atlanta that night," Ricard said. "When I got to Atlanta, I told them it was a bit strange having been at the facilities of both Super Bowl teams in the same day."
He said just being at an NFL facility is a bit eye-opening. The treatment from the staff, the pickup from the airport, the training facilities, the workout facilities, the meals, meeting with coaches you have only previously seen on TV — it is quite the experience and he's soaking it all in. Not too shabby for a guy who came out of high school, thinking he may end up at Holy Cross or Fordham — two Patriot League programs in the FCS — and ending up at Maine. The Boston Colleges and the UConns never followed through. Maybe now they wish they had.
"Jack Cosgrove, what he did was he just found guys who needed a chance, blue-collar guys with work ethic," Ricard said. "The way he structured our schedules and did things in the program turns boys into men. So when we get the chance to go to an NFL camp, the Maine guys usually do pretty well.
"There's a chance I may be a late rounder, but you don't know. I just don't want any of that to be a hassle. If you don't get drafted, you'll end up talking to a bunch of teams that want you and you'll find out where you want to go."
Mark Saturday down as a key day in Ricard's life — he'll either watch his name go across the draft ticker, or he'll have a home in free agency.
RICARD'S CAREER AT MAINE