Tuesday, June 12, 2007
2007 Recruiting - Steven Ridley
This is Steven Ridley, Athlete, 6'0", 210#(some say 225#), 4.6 40. "Athlete" means that the recruiting services or coaches don't know at this time what position he's projected to play. It is believed that Ridley will play either fullback or linebacker. Mr. Ridley is a 4-star recruit out of Trinity Episcopal High School in Natchez, Mississippi.
Ridley really stands out in one respect. He went to a VERY small high school in a very low-level league in Mississippi. This has been cause for concern among a lot of commenters. They ask, "What kind of competition has he faced?" It's a legitimate concern most of the time, but I think I have some insight as to how coaches evaluate players who play at a level where most of the competition wouldn't even make the team at a place like Catholic - Baton Rouge or John Curtis. They want to know a) how good was his coaching, and more importantly b) how did he perform in football camps.
I have so far neglected to mention football camps on this blog. Quality football players are regularly invited to football camps put on at colleges nationwide during the summer. At the camps they receive instruction from college coaches, but more importantly they get evaluated by college coaches and compared to other top-notch high school players. Many a player has received a scholarship offer based on his performance at a camp.
It is especially important that a player like Ridley, from a very small school in a very low-talent league, perform well at camp because you can get very little quality information from watching their games or film. Even players who aren't D-1 level prospects can dominate those leagues. At camp, you can find out how good of an athlete the recruit really is, i.e. whether he is an LSU-level recruit or a McNeese-level recruit.
I mentioned evaluating coaching earlier. Besides the risk that a player of this competition-level just isn't as athletic as you may think, there is also the risk that the player doesn't know as much about the game or about technique as players from bigger schools. It is intuitive to me that bigger schools (with bigger athletic budgets and greater opportunity for glory) get the best high school coaches. If a player at this level has not had quality coaching, the player may be far behind the learning curve when he gets to campus.
The coaching staff obviously really liked what they saw of Steven Ridley, as did the recruiting services that made him a 4-star player. Despite the plethora of 4-stars in our recruiting class last year, 4-star players don't grow on trees. At this point, the 2008 Louisiana prospect class only has a total of nine 4-star players. They don't just hand them out to anyone, but they handed one to Ridley.
Still, because he's taking a HUGE jump in competition level, expect a redshirt while he finds a position during the 2007 season. We're going to have to rebuild both the fullback position and the linebacking corp (potentially) for the 2008 season, and Ridley could be a key part of either.