LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
LONN: How you doing first off? How's the move been here to Baton Rouge?
SHAUNA RICKS: All is really good thanks! We are coming up on a year here and we love it!
LONN: Glad to hear that! Your son is signed and ready for his debut at LSU, but your entire family has committed to the cause, too, uprooting your lives in California to come to Baton Rouge. Has that been the plan all along?
SHAUNA: We have family in the Louisiana area. We had been considering moving out of California prior to his commitment here. When we started visiting LSU frequently, we liked it here, more than just from a visiting standpoint. We stayed for a month with family last year over the summer just to be certain we wanted to be here full time. We searched and explored the area from every aspect, and it's truly a beautiful place with very kind people.
LONN: So LSU was always first-choice for Eli?
SHAUNA: We always taught Elias not to confine his decisions to his immediate area. There's a whole world out there to explore!
LONN: When was the moment you realized your son could legitimately play at a school like LSU?
And what part of his game made that possible?
SHAUNA: Elias's pressure and mentality is intrinsic. He creates his own measures and competes with himself. Regardless of how well he does, he always strives to be better. Winning the game isn't nearly enough. He has to meet whatever standard he set for himself on that particular day.
LONN: What are Eli's expectations for his freshman season? I'm just trying to understand his mentality geauxing into his debut campaign at LSU.
SHAUNA: He's excited to play defense with the best. We are all extremely proud and happy for Derek Stingley Jr. I talked to his Dad after every game last year and prayed for all of his successes. Elias enjoys playing with the best talents with the best skills and abilities. This maximizes his growth and development, as well. Over his entire football history, high school, youth football etc, he has always put himself in a position with extremely high standards and a challenging level of competition.
LONN: So the Ricks and Stingley families are already close?! Were there conversations from Eli to Derek before they met?
SHAUNA: Yes! We met Stingley and his Dad a year or so ago. Great family and we have a lot of mutual respect for each other.
LONN: What does Eli do to "punish himself" if he doesn't hit his personal standards?
SHAUNA: If Elias misses a rep or makes a mistake, he likes to address it and correct it immediately. He enjoys going against the best competition to help him get better.
LONN: What's his personality like off the field? We know he's extremely fiery on the field and I'm sure Tiger fans just love seeing that kind of enthusiasm as much as I do.
SHAUNA: He's quiet off the field, but on the field he definitely has an alter ego...similar to what Kobe described like "a Mamba mentality".
He just transforms.
But off the field, he's a big time dog lover to the core, he's a big-time Christian...but also:
He's ALL Football.
LONN: You just mentioned Kobe as one of his favorite athletes ever, RIP Black Mamba.
Who is Eli's favorite cornerback of all time?
SHAUNA: Elias likes LeBron James, but he has no real idol though. He likes to bet against himself. His favorite cornerback is Tyrann Mathieu. He really likes Jalen Ramsey, as well.
LONN: What made Eli buy into LSU most? Was it a meeting with Coach O? Talking with Corey Raymond? What made him finally say "let's geaux"?
SHAUNA: The seal for LSU was God talking to him and saying "this is where he belongs". Coach O, Raymond and the entire support staff were critical of Eli.
He wants to be prepared and to develop further. He wants to surround himself with fierce competitors.
Really, the DBU Tradition and Coach O are what really caught his attention.
He's known Coach O since he was a kid.
LONN: Wow, he met Coach O as a child? Can you tell me a bit more about that experience?
SHAUNA: They met at a USC camp in California, Elias won the fastest man competition and Coach O was running the camp; Coach O is adored in California.
LONN: Yes he is! Wow so at first he wanted Eli as a Trojan?
SHAUNA: Yep (laughs).
LONN: What were Coach Raymond and Orgeron critical of concerning Eli? Most would just kiss his behind until the cows came home.
SHAUNA: Yes! The relationship was very comfortable and familial, genuine and real...caring and supportive.
LONN: What was the most bizarre recruiting experience you had throughout Elias's recruitment?
ELI: We took Elias all over the country to visit all schools interested in him. The craziest thing we did was visit three colleges in 3 days. We drove from Ohio to Michigan to Notre Dame then home. Most schools pretty much just spoke about how wonderful and perfect their program was rather than speaking transparently about their weaknesses and where they could improve.
LONN: If the decision were based on talent alone, do you feel you son deserves to start opposite Stingley on opening day?
SHAUNA: I have no say about his starting position. I leave that up to his play.
LONN: What does Eli's father think about all this LSU 2020 freshman season business?
SHAUNA: His Dad is very mellow and just wants to see him play.
LONN: The game where Eli had 3 INTs and returned each one for a TD during his time at Mater Dei, what was that moment like and can he repeat that at the collegiate level?
SHAUNA: There's no limit to what he can do. When we think he's reached his potential, he shocks us all again. We say "God's Super is on his Natural".
When he had 3 INTs (ret for TDs) he was actually upset with himself for dropping a 4th.
He doesn't celebrate or dwell on successes, he moves on to keep working for his next challenge.
LONN: You mentioned he had a trainer in Calabasas, Charlie Collins, an athletic trainer Eli's been working with for a long time but does he work with anyone else?
SHAUNA: He trains with NFL players daily, I can't say their names out of privacy for them, but every day he trains with these big-time players and has for a year. But the trainer out of Calabasas, Charlie Collins is a great guy Eli's worked with since the 8th grade. Charlie used to coach in the NFL, coaching receivers, that's where he's had most of his training.
When Eli was in the 6th grade he trained with college kids, we've always put him in tough situations so that he could grow.
LONN: I've got to ask you about some of these celebrations, they're hilarious and just unbelievable: Have you ever told him to minimize his celebrations?
SHAUNA: I'm sure his coaches don't want him to get flags for celebrations after he scores, now. He will miss the celebrations because they hype him up to make another play.
LONN: I hope he will try the celebrations, he can get creative.
Since his commitment and the family's move to Baton Rouge, have you all felt the love from the fans?
SHAUNA: Yes we have! They've been amazing and it's something Eli takes seriously every day.
LONN: If there's one thing every Tigers fan should be excited for, concerning Eli's freshman season, what would that be?
SHAUNA: He will never sit in success and have any disrespect for his opponent. Since he was a sophomore, he guarded the best receiver in every game...it's there on the film.
He thrives off of working with the best. He's also defended against the top QBs throwing the ball, too. He knows there's hard work in all things and has too much respect for the game to take it lightly.
LONN: Thank you so much for speaking with us, Shauna, this has been fun! Next time I'm in Baton Rouge I owe you all dinner!
SHAUNA: No problem! You take care and have a great night!
LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
COPYRIGHT 2020 UNINTERRUPTED WRITINGS INC LLC
THANK YOU TO SHAUNA RICKS:
FOR HER KINDNESS & CANDOR
SPECIAL DEDICATION TO TONY TWO BETS:
YOU TAUGHT ME A LOT & IN THE END,
YOU GOT ME FOR A FRIEND, TIL THE END