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GAINESVILLE, Florida — When Mike Ricketts first came on the UF campus in the late 1970s, he was much the same as many of his teammates.

Strong and gifted, he was a well-known prep football star at Pennsylvania’s Valley Forge Military Academy. With over 4,000 career yards, he departed Valley Forge as the school’s all-time top rusher and was placed alongside former NFL players Matt Suhey and Jimmy Cefalo among Pennsylvania’s all-time greats.

However, Ricketts was also unique; he was a young African-American man who was exposed to opportunities outside of those delineated by the lines drawn on a football field at a young age.

“I began training before I enrolled in college,” he declared.

His eyes were opened to a new world by the experience, and when his football career with the Gators ended due to injuries, Ricketts wasn’t filled with despair that his chance at success was gone. Instead, he was recruited by a young assistant to Doug Dickey named Steve Spurrier.

After working for a period in a prison close to Gainesville, Ricketts went back to his native New Jersey and attempted to network as much as he could, using his economics major background to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.

Quality Packaging Specialists International (QPSI), which Ricketts created in 1992, is a supply chain, contract packaging, and marketing services leader in the industry.

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