After filling the void of an injured David Njoku, former Sealy Tiger and A&M Aggie Ricky Seals-Jones hit his stride in the Cleveland Browns’ offense.
Njoku was sidelined with wrist and concussion issues since week two before being activated for last week’s divisional matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals and in that time, Seals-Jones stepped in to provide a pass-catching option at tight end for Baker Mayfield, hauling in 10 passes for 177 yards, seven first downs and a pair of touchdowns.
This week, he’s getting himself ready for a reunion game against an Arizona Cardinal team that gave him his first NFL home.
“I’m always going to have memories, that was the first NFL team I was at but as far as business you’ve just gotta move on, put it in the back of your head,” Seals-Jones said in a phone interview last Wednesday. “I know I’m going there for one reason and that’s to beat them. I have memories and guys that still play for them that I look forward to seeing after the game.”
After two years in the desert, the Cardinals waived the tight end but he was soon picked up by the Browns who have leaned on him and Demetrius Harris in the place of the injured Njoku but he credited the change in scenery to adding an aspect to his game as of late.
“I think being able to stretch the field being that receiver tight end I’ve been,” he said. “David (Njoku) and Demetrius (Harris) are continuously working on my blocking too. It’s been a great group of guys and coaching staff as well. I’ve just been coming in and doing whatever they need me to do, we’ve got everybody back tight end-wise so whenever I get in, I try to make a play and work hard.”
Back in his high school days, however, it was hard to keep him off the playing surface he was on that season according to Ray Dabney who has been coaching football, boys’ basketball and track for the better part of the last two decades.
“Ricky was just a great kid, couldn’t keep him off the floor, even if he was hurt,” Dabney said. “He wanted to practice, I would tell him, ‘No you don’t have to practice,’ ‘No I’m practicing,’ he’d say and you’d have to take him and move him and tell him practice is over with. He was always one of those kids asking for one more rep.”
He played a major role in getting the Tigers to the regional semifinal in 2011 as a 6’5” 220-pound sophomore and two rounds deep the following year before missing time after a knee injury his senior football season although it didn’t end his whole year.
“After basketball season, we finished two rounds deep his senior year, I went up to him and said ‘Hey stud, appreciate coaching you,’” Dabney recounted. “He said, ‘I got one more season left,’ I asked, ‘Track?’ he said ‘Yeah,’ I said ‘Man, you ain’t high jumping,’ he had already had a bad knee, bad ankle. He said, ‘I ain’t high jumping, I’ll run relays.’ I said ‘You ain’t fast enough to be running relays,’ ‘Yes I am!’ and he ran all three relays. You tell him no and he just goes I’ll show you.”
It’s that mindset, he said, that helped him get to the big show and join a small group of men to have ever made it to the National Football League by way of Sealy High School with Seals-Jones being related to one and sharing an alma mater with the other.
“It’s a tremendous honor, my cousin Eric (Dickerson) and then you have Justin Brantly who played a couple of years punting (for the Omaha Nighthawks in the United Football League and a free-agent signing with Texans in 2009),” Seals-Jones said. “There’s not many of us so to make it this far hopefully shows the youth that just because Sealy’s a small town doesn’t mean that you can’t make it out or that small ball doesn’t work. Just shows them to keep working hard and keep going at it and make it to college and stay healthy and grind it out and the sky’s the limit. I just try to keep going to show people that are from a small town, a small community that you can make it, you just gotta put your mind to it.”
Dabney agreed from his front-row seat that it’s no small thing to make it that far.
“That’s big-time, that’s a dream job,” Dabney said. “You go from high school to college and work your dream job at A&M on the big-time stage making big-time catches for a big-time program and then all of a sudden you get to the NFL and you represent Sealy and A&M with big-time plays, big-time touchdowns so he’s doing good, very proud of him. I texted him the other day I said, ‘If you wanna win, put Ricky in,’ but I think he could have played both football and basketball but I’m happy to see him up there.”