Alabama cornerback Eli Ricks was caught between his past and his future Sunday afternoon.
A former highly touted LSU cornerback in 2020 and ’21, he transferred to Alabama last December after the Tigers’ second straight non-winning season following the 2019 national championship.
Ricks, 20, was arrested on Sunday afternoon between LSU and Alabama in the state of Mississippi while headed north toward Tuscaloosa on Interstate 59 near Laurel, Mississippi, by state police. He was charged with speeding, driving without insurance and misdemeanor, first offense marijuana possession, according to the Jones County Sheriff’s Office in Laurel.
One of the nation’s top transfers through the controversial NCAA portal, Ricks spent Sunday night at the Jones County jail in Ellisville, Mississippi, before being released at 1:36 p.m. Monday on a signature bond after being booked at 5:14 p.m. Sunday, a spokesman at the jail told OutKick.com.
Ricks appeared before Jones County Justice Court Judge C. Grant Hedgepeth Monday, signed the bond, and agreed to appear at a future court date before Hedgepeth, court records said.
Alabama coach Nick Saban had not yet commented on Ricks as of Monday night.
A first offense for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana, according to Mississippi law, would get Ricks a fine of $100 to $250. That will be easier to pay now, depending on what kind of package Ricks may have at Alabama or will be having with the new Name, Image and Likeness rules that allow college players to be compensated.
Ricks was the No. 1 cornerback in the nation out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and the No. 6 overall prospect when he signed with LSU before the 2020 season. He struggled early in 2020, but finished with four interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, and was named to the Football Writers Association freshmen All-American team during a 5-5 season.
He played in only six games last season at LSU because of injuries amid a 6-7 campaign. Before IMG, Ricks played at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, California, which is where Alabama Heisman-winning quarterback Bryce Young played.
During Alabama’s spring game last month, Ricks was on the second team behind veteran cornerbacks Kool-Aid McKinstry and Khyree Jackson.
“The biggest thing for Eli is learning the system,” Saban said after Alabama’s spring game on April 16. “And sometimes it’s even more difficult for guys that played in a system.”
Ricks is on his third defensive system in three years as he played on two poor defenses at LSU in 2020 under coordinator Bo Pelini and in 2021 under coordinator Daronte Jones, neither of whom were retained following their respective seasons. Pelini had not coordinated a defense since 2007 at LSU when he returned to LSU in 2020. And Jones had never been a coordinator in major college before coming to LSU in 2021.
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron was fired midway through last season and replaced in early December by Brian Kelly, and Ricks soon left.
“So he knew a system, now he’s got to sort of enturbulate some of the things that they did to some of the things that we’re doing, and we call it something different,” Saban said last month. “So you’ve got to work through that learning curve. But he’s a very conscientious guy and works hard at it, takes coaching well, wants to please.”