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|Ridley getting last laugh|
You can't blame Natchez's Stevan Ridley if he's feeling a bit of vindication.
When Ridley signed with LSU in 2007, most people figured he would be a footnote in Tiger football history.
Most people wondered not only why LSU would offer a scholarship to a player from a small private school in Natchez, but why Ridley would sign with an SEC power knowing he would be going against 5-star recruits.
But there he was Saturday, the starting tailback for LSU as a sophomore.
"Coming from a small school I really didn't realize what I had until I got down here," Ridley said. "Coach (David) King saw it way before I did. I came here as an underdog and nobody really expected much. But a football player is a football player and hard work usually puts you over the edge. I have heard it all, from 'He's from a small school and he's not fast.' But if you keep working hard you will be amazed at what can open up for you. I've been able to take advantage of some situations."
Heck, when the 2008 LSU media guide came out, a picture of walk-on Kyle Ridley, who is no longer with the team and also happens to be white, appeared with Stevan's bio.
"That was pretty funny," Ridley said. "I caught a lot of ribbing from the guys about that."
Ridley played a major part in LSU's 33-30 overtime win over Arkansas Saturday. Injuries to Richard Murphy and Charles Scott paved the way for the 6-foot, 226-pounder. Ridley finished the game with 48 yards on 14 carries and caught four passes for 30 yards.
"It was fun," he said. "I thought I would go out and be kind of nervous, but actually I felt relaxed and I was comfortable with the game plan. The coaches prepared me well."
Ridley, who played high school football for David King at Trinity Episcopal, was a key to LSU's final drive of regulation when the Tigers tied the game at 30-30 with four seconds remaining.
Ridley caught an 8-yard swing pass to the Arkansas 40, running out of bounds to stop the clock, rushed for nine yards to the Razorback 31 and then caught an 8-yard swing pass and dove out of bounds at the Arkansas 23 to stop the clock with nine seconds remaining.
"That was awesome," Ridley said. "I felt like I was in high school again when they were calling my number play after play and the ball kept coming to me. I just thank God for giving me the talent and the wisdom to know to get out of bounds. I have been in that position before and I knew what to do in that situation."
Ridley was also seen by TV cameras on the sideline talking to quarterback Jordan Jefferson after Jefferson threw an interception.
"He was a little bit upset, so I just told him to put that behind him and move on," Ridley said. "I told him we could get it rolling again and not to try and force anything, to look at me as a last option if nothing else was open. I was just trying to get him more at ease. He's my quarterback and I'm excited to be playing with him the next two years. I just told him the game was not over that we have to continue to play. That's something Coach King instilled in me - never give up on anything."
The win was a major change from the botched time management loss to Ole Miss the week before.
"We've been on both sides of that now," Ridley said.
Before the mismanagement on the final drive, LSU went for two points to try and tie the game. trailing 25-23. A second straight fade route to Terrance Tolliver was broken up. It appeared Ridley was open the flat on the play.
"Things happen like that and that's the game of football," Ridley said. "Whatever happens happens and you just have to play it out."
For now, Ridley is excited to be getting practice time with the first unit for LSU's bowl game.
"Right now I feel like we are in a groove and playing with confidence," Ridley said. "But we still have a lot of work to do. It feels awesome getting ready for the future. It's the beginning of being our show. Some of my closest friends on this team are getting a lot of playing time. We're still young. Our offensive line is young and they are doing a great job and are going to get better."
Ridley said he is looking forward to the bowl game and next year.
"We need to come in next year with the mentality that we can't be stopped," he said. "We will find a way to win every time we go out on the field. We're losing some great players, but we've some players ready to step up. I'm excited about it."
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