- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series takes a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.
No. 81 Hassan Ridgeway
Sophomore defensive tackle
Recruitment rewind: Three days after his junior day visit to Texas in 2011, Ridgeway got on the phone with Mack Brown and made a commitment, turning down offers from Texas A&M and TCU. The four-star Mansfield (Texas) defensive lineman didn't play football until his sophomore year but developed into an all-state talent. Ridgeway took a late January visit to A&M and has admitted he came very close to flipping to the Aggies, but he stuck with Texas on signing day.
Career so far: Ridgeway redshirted in 2012 and moved inside from defensive end to defensive tackle following his freshman year. As a redshirt freshman, he played in 12 games as a reserve and recorded 13 tackles, five QB pressures and one pass breakup. Most of those numbers came in nonconference play. Exiting spring ball, Ridgeway was Texas' top backup at defensive tackle.
Best-case scenario for 2014: New defensive line coach Chris Rumph takes Ridgeway's game to the next level. Texas' previous staff was plenty excited about the young lineman's high ceiling a year ago, and there is great need for depth at defensive tackle. Ridgeway is a powerful 6-foot-4, 309-pound force who can make life tough for quarterbacks. His role is set to expand in a big way.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: Behind Malcom Brown and Desmond Jackson, the depth at defensive tackle is largely unproven. Alex Norman and Paul Boyette Jr. haven't made any impact thus far, and stud incoming freshman Poona Ford isn't on campus yet. If Ridgeway gets hurt or underperforms, Texas could find itself in real trouble in the middle as the season progresses.
Future expectations: What if Brown is so good this fall, he elects to declare for the NFL draft early? If he and Jackson are both gone after this season, Ridgeway will almost definitely have to step into the starting lineup in 2015. Even if Brown sticks around, Ridgeway will probably be the favorite to take Jackson's place. This should be the year the third-year defensive tackle breaks through -- and when he does, look out.