North Texas Daily

Ikaika Ragsdale finds deeper connection with teammates, success for football

Ikaika Ragsdale finds deeper connection with teammates, success for football

Ikaika Ragsdale finds deeper connection with teammates, success for football
November 19
11:00 2021

Freshman running back Ikaika Ragsdale is 1,183 miles from his home in Las Vegas, NV, but he has found a home at North Texas, maintaining a humble attitude and deep connection with teammates.

“North Texas is just like home,” Ragsdale said. “The atmosphere, the coaches and everything [about UNT].”

In his second year in Denton, Ragsdale has had to fight his way into playing time after only playing two games his true freshman year in 2020.

Finding more of an expanded role in 2021, Ragsdale flashed his potential versus The University of Southern Mississippi on Nov. 6, rushing for 112 yards and two touchdowns on the day. While there Ragsdale’s previous performances did not indicate a potential breakout performance, his teammates had been expecting the running back to succeed.

“[Ragsdale] prepared well during the week, so I wasn’t very surprised about [his performance],” junior offensive lineman Manase Mose said. “He comes in every day, does his work and it shows on Saturdays.”

While his teammates applaud Ragsdale for his hard work, Ragsdale credits other players or team members when asked about his own performance.  

“I just want to thank the offensive line [and] coaches.” Ragsdale said of his performance versus Southern Miss. “Us running backs are just getting it done.”

The season has been an up-and-down experience for the whole team but also for Ragsdale who has missed reps due to injuries.

“They’ve been out this season, [Ragsdale] and Isaiah [Johnson], kind of in-and-out throughout the season,” Littrell said. “It takes time to get back in there and get into the rhythm…it’s good to see those guys out there.”

Overcoming adversity is something Ragsdale has had to do on and off the field. As an out-of-state student, Ragsdale has had to do adjust to a new life that comes with being an independent adult in a new environment.

“It’s been different, Vegas to Texas is of course very different, going from the desert to Texas now,” Ragsdale said.

The support from back home in Nevada is still present for Ragsdale, most visibly from his father, Jerry, whose Twitter account is filled with highlights of Ragsdale at Bishop Gorman High School, retweets that mention his son and pictures that show Ragsdale at all ages. 

While Ragsdale’s family cannot be replaced, he has found a similar connection among his position-mates at North Texas.

“[DeAndre] [Torrey] and Oscar [Adaway III] and all the running back groups and older guys helped me when I first came in,” Ragsdale said. “They helped me get through everything, but now we’re just rolling.”

After practices, it’s a common occurrence to see Ragsdale and the running back groups commune with one another, whether it’s joking or talking about football. The group plays together but also keeps a relationship off the field, giving Ragsdale a brotherhood amongst him and his teammates.

“We’re all brothers, you know, I mean we all hang out with each other,” Ragsdale said. “We all push each other every day and want each other to succeed every day.”

The starter for the North Texas backfield is senior running back Torrey, one of the most productive backs in UNT history. According to fellow running back Johnson, Torrey’s reputation gives him an older sibling vibe in the locker room.

“He’s definitely the big bro of the running back room,” Johnson said. “How we’re all so close, we’re all best friends, I think that gives him a little bit more of a way to talk to us.”

The running backs have translated the positive energy onto the field for the Mean Green. Between Ragsdale, Torrey, Johnson and freshman Ayo Adeyi, the group has carried a heavy chunk of the Mean Green’s offensive production going down the stretch of the season as well as leading the conference in rushing with 223 yards a game.

“Our run game has been doing very well and there’s other people stepping up,” Mose said. “People [have been] stepping up and making plays when they’re called upon.”

When asked to step up, Ragsdale has not disappointed but to him, it’s not about his own performance — it’s about the experiences he gains with his teammates. 

“[I] just want to be able to go out there and have fun with my team,” Ragsdale said. “Just want to get wins for North Texas.”

Featured Image: Sophomore quarterback Jace Ruder hands off the ball to Mean Green teammate Ikaika Ragsdale against Northwestern State on Sept. 4, 2021. Photo by Zachary Thomas

About Author

Reed Smith

Reed Smith

Senior Sports Writer.

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