Northwood rising junior Gus Ritchey has continued to add to his recruiting resume since football season ended.
Now, the defensive end/tight end is considered a four-star prospect by 247Sports’ composite rankings. He is currently ranked as the No. 276 player overall and the No. 20 athlete in the Class of 2025. Players designated as “athletes” typically play more than one position and on both sides of the ball.
Playing as a sophomore this past fall, Ritchey (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) totaled 61 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and two forced fumbles at defensive end while catching 32 passes for 490 yards and five touchdowns at tight end. The Chargers finished the year with a 4-6 record, but with Ritchey leading the way and a new coach in charge in Mitch Johnson, Northwood looks ready to make a leap starting in 2023.
Ritchey — who was named an All-American by MaxPreps as a sophomore — has 23 total offers from Division-I schools. He has drawn the interest of several in-state programs like UNC, N.C. State Duke, East Carolina, as well as national powerhouses like Georgia, Michigan, Washington, Oregon and Notre Dame.
The rising junior has taken several visits over the offseason, but it appears one of Ritchey’s top choices at this point is Notre Dame. Ritchey grew up in Indiana, where the school is located, and told the News + Record back in March that he was really looking forward to his then-upcoming trip to South Bend.
The Fighting Irish have a reputation of developing players into pro prospects, especially at the tight end position. Since 2010, players like Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert and — most recently — Michael Mayer were all chosen within the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
Ritchey competed in the Notre Dame Irish Invasion skills camp on June 6 and impressed many onlookers, according to 247Sports. His recruitment is being led by defensive line coach Al Washington, a former Boston College defensive linemen who has had coaching stops at Ohio State and Michigan over the past several years.
Expect Ritchey to receive more recruiting love this upcoming season as he comes back to Northwood for his junior year. With no real hurry to commit, the Chargers’ top prospect can take his time over the next several months before eventually coming to a decision on where he wants to commit.
Back in March, Ritchey spoke with the N+R about the different things he’s looking for in a school as he makes his choice.
“Everything is completely different depending where you are, so what I’m trying to look for is building a relationship with the coaching staff and the players and seeing the little things like the weight room or the stadium,” Ritchey said. “Does this fit me? Can I see myself playing at this school? That’s basically what I look out for. But the main thing is making relationships with the coaching staff and the players.”
Northwood kicks off its 2023 season at home Aug. 18 against Riverside-Durham, which had a 6-5 record in 2022. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since a 27-7 Chargers’ win back on Sept. 14, 2012.
Northwood will compete as part of the Mid-Carolina 1A/2A Conference for the first time in 2023. The Chargers are part of a league that includes Seaforth, Jordan-Matthews, Chatham Central, Graham, Cummings, Bartlett Yancey, North Moore and Southeast Alamance.