Dougherty senior Ricardo Sloan signs his national letter-of-intent with Point University alongside his mom, Ravon Perry, Wednesday in the Dougherty High School media center. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Dougherty High senior Ricardo Sloan grew up thinking he was going to be a basketball player.
Turns out, his future was on the football field.
“I saw him at a B-team (basketball) game against Lee County, and he was just so aggressive and fouling,” Dougherty football coach Corey Joyner said, remembering a game from Sloan’s freshman year. “He would foul out just about every game. I said, ‘Man, you’re not a basketball player. You are a football player.’ He came out his 10th grade year and led us in receiving.”
On Wednesday, Sloan signed a national letter-of-intent with NAIA school Point University in West Point, becoming Dougherty’s first football player in four years to accept a scholarship.
It was a special moment for both Sloan and a Dougherty football team that went winless in 2013 and only won two games in Sloan’s three-year career.
“This means a lot to me,” said Sloan, who also was a four-year member of the Dougherty basketball team. “Academically it wasn’t tough (at Dougherty), but sports-wise and football were kind of tough. But coach Joyner always instilled in us character, hard work, determination and to never give up.”
Sloan, who led the Trojans in receiving in 2013 with 52 catches for 653 yards and 12 touchdowns, said his primary focus at Point will be academics. During Wednesday’s ceremony, the receiver stood in front of his classmates, coaches and friends, looked at his mother Ravon Perry and promised her that he would earn his physical therapy degree in four years.
It was a heartfelt speech from Dougherty’s newest college athlete.
And he meant every word of it.
“It’s very, very important (to get a college degree) because my mother worked so hard for me and my brother to get where we are today,” said Sloan, who has a 3.0 GPA. “If it wasn’t for her, I don’t where I would be.”
Joyner said it was Sloan’s hard work that made a difference on the field.
“He was one of the hardest working players I have seen,” Joyner said. “He would come to work out with us from 8 in the morning to 12:30 in the afternoon. Then he would leave us and go to basketball practice in the summer from 1 to 4. And this was every single day.”
Sloan’s teammates noticed his work ethic, too.
“We all worked hard, but Ricardo stood out and it showed — he is the only one signing,” Dougherty linebacker Deon Randolph said. “He would come early, stay late, whatever it took to get the job done. We didn’t have a successful season, but I’m glad some success came out of it.”
Joyner believes Sloan can make a difference on the field for the Skyhawks, who started their football program in 2011 and finished a program-best 3-7 last year.
“We know that with his work ethic he is going to prosper,” Joyner said. “He is going to make the Skyhawks very happy with what they got. I used to tell people that he is one of the best route runners I have seen in a long time. He is going to be really good for them.”