Ridley will start for LSU in bowl game

Published 12:19 am Thursday, December 24, 2009

NATCHEZ — LSU running back and former Trinity Episcopal standout Stevan Ridley knew his time would come eventually.

He just didn’t expect it to happen as soon as it did.

With LSU head coach Les Miles announcing that Charles Scott would not be able to return from a broken collarbone for the Capital One Bowl, Ridley has been named the starter at running back for the Tigers on New Year’s Day in Orlando, Fla.

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“I never would have dreamed that (my chance would come) at the time it has,” Ridley said. “I’m excited. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t. It’s a dream come true.”

Having played on the 2006 Class A state championship team for Trinity, Ridley is no stranger to big games.

“I went to LSU to play in big-time games, and here I am playing against Penn State and one of the best coaches in college football in my sophomore year,” Ridley said.

The road to getting to this point was not easy for Ridley, however. Recovering from a torn ACL and beginning the season buried on the Tigers’ depth chart were both formidable obstacles for him to overcome.

“I started out fifth on the depth chart, and my confidence was down some at the beginning (of the season),” Ridley said.

“I was just wondering when I would get my shot to carry the ball. I wanted to get to the point to where the team would be comfortable putting the ball in my hands. That time came sooner than I expected, and I just have to thank God for how quickly I’ve been able to come back from my ACL injury.”

Ridley said his performance in practice for the Tigers was a big reason his coaches have gained confidence in him.

“One thing I’ve learned is that you have to practice hard. Practice sets the good players apart from the best. (Trinity Head) Coach (David) King always said, anytime you can go in there and practice hard, you set yourself apart, because the coaches can see what they’re going to get in the game.”

The Nittany Lions look to bring a formidable team to Orlando, Ridley said, and he hopes the Tigers will be able to utilize their team speed to their advantage.

“We’ve watched a lot of film on them,” Ridley said. “They’re a big team. They have big players up front and strong linebackers, and their secondary tends to be pretty good.

“The speed of our team as a whole — offense, defense and special teams — should be an advantage for us. It should be a great game and a great matchup.”

If there have been any other games on Ridley’s mind recently, it would be Trinity’s game in the Class A state championship game last month.

“I was honestly excited when they won,” Ridley said. “Coach King called me the night before the game to come talk to those guys. I told them to let it all hang out.

“They were a good team, and they worked hard. Coach King is an inspirational guy. He had those guys playing hard for him. I’m proud of the program and proud to see them get Coach King a third state championship.”