Ricky Sapp smiles at the camera while posing in front of gym equipment.Tiger Tales: Ricky Sapp

Ricky Sapp felt lost after hanging up his cleats. After five years of playing for the NFL, the former Clemson Football standout, experienced anxiety and depression for over a year. 

Luckily, Sapp made a career from pushing past obstacles. Now the 5-star high school football recruit has returned home to work with players and former coaches in the weight room. He says that what brought him back to his roots was his love of people and life.

After retiring from the NFL, Sapp had the opportunity to speak to a high school football team and soon was offered a volunteer coaching position. After much convincing, he accepted the position. To his surprise, working at that school would unveil his purpose in life. Sapp fell in love with working with students. Following his passion, he went on to work as a substitute and high school ISS teacher. While it was hard for him to leave his students, he is thrilled to be back at Clemson.

Returning Clemson, the part-time motivational speaker works under Coach Batson for Clemson Football strength and conditioning. “I’m home,” said Sapp when asked how it feels to be back in the Upstate.

Sapp’s first campus visit, over a decade ago, set the tone for the future of his sports career. Back then, the South Carolinian teen had countless offers from college football programs. However, after visiting other universities, something kept bringing him back to Clemson. Sapp called his years at Clemson “the best time of my life.” 

Clemson Football enabled Sapp to pursue his childhood dream. In 2010 he was drafted to the Philadelphia Eagles. From there, he had the opportunity to play in the NFL for five years. Also, during this time, he founded the Ricky Sapp Foundation, which encourages young people to make positive changes in their life. 

Ricky Sapp dressed in an orange and white Clemson football uniform running on the field.

When Sapp was asked what advice he would give to a college student in today’s world, he responded with “Enjoy it, enjoy this experience… write down options of what you want to do… figure out what you’re passionate about… your gift will make room for everything else…”

If you have the opportunity to have a conversation with Sapp, you will not be disappointed. He is full of positivity and great advice. Clemson is lucky to have him back.


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