Photo from Western Michigan Broncos

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A native of Loveland, Ohio, Giovanni Ricci was a four-time Academic All-MAC selection at Western Michigan who was a third-team all-league selection in 2018 before bumping up to the first team in 2019. He finished with 21 games with two or more receptions and 22 contests with 20 or more receiving yards. Ricci received the Iron Bronco Award in 2019 for having played the most snaps during the regular season and represented WMU at the East-West Shrine Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla., on January 18, 2020. Ricci was a standout player for Loveland High School Tigers. Ricci was on the Loveland High Schoo’s 2013 Ohio State Championship team.

In 2013 Gio Ricci catches a pass for a touchdown late in the 4th quarter against the Zanesville Blue Devils. The Tiger win sent them to the State Championship. (Loveland Magazine File Photo by David Burig)

Ricci has agreed to terms with the Carolina Panthers to join the NFL organization as an undrafted free agent.

A two-time All-Mid-American Conference selection and one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award in 2019, Ricci was a four-year letterwinner for the Broncos. In 45 career games with 21 starts, Ricci tallied 98 receptions for 1,114 yards (11.37) and 11 touchdowns.

During his 2019 senior season, Ricci started all 13 games, catching 51 passes for 642 yards (12.59) and eight touchdowns. He tied for the team lead in receptions and finished second on the squad in receiving yards. Ricci also tied for the lead in the MAC, and for 40th nationally, in receiving touchdowns. Among tight ends nationally, he tied for third in receiving TDs. Ricci caught two TD passes versus Monmouth and Ohio and had one score against Michigan State, Syracuse, Central Michigan and Toledo.

As a senior, Ricci caught two or more passes in 11 games and made four or more receptions in eight contests. He finished with a personal-best eight grabs at Syracuse and added a career-high 105 receiving yards versus the Orange. In his two games against Power 5 opponents (Michigan State & Syracuse) during the season, Ricci finished with 14 receptions for 158 yards and two TDs.

During his junior campaign in 2018, Ricci caught 35 passes for 392 yards (11.20) and three touchdowns to finish third on the team in receptions and receiving yards. He registered two touchdown catches against Delaware State and one against Ball State, hauling in a nine-yard pass from Kaleb Eleby with 1:48 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 35-35. Earlier in the final quarter against the Cardinals, Ricci caught a two-point conversion pass from Eleby to knot the contest at 28-28.

A member of one of the best Western Michigan teams in program history, Ricci primarily played on special teams in 2016 as the Broncos captured the MAC West Division title and Marathon MAC Championship Game crown and made an appearance in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Ricci recovered a fumble against Ohio in the Marathon MAC Championship Game, setting up WMU at the Bobcat 17-yard line and leading to a Bronco field goal and a 6-0 lead.

Ricci graduated from Western Michigan in April, 2019, with a degree in finance.