Texas Longhorns: Hassan Ridgeway

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.
Editor's note: This week we're taking a closer look at five key takeaways from Texas' spring practices, which wrapped up earlier this month, as well as what they mean for the summer and beyond.

AUSTIN, Texas -- The new defensive line coach has a saying. Well, he has a lot of sayings. But he’s particularly proud of this one: In his eyes, there are two types of players.

The CEPs and the PSPs.

[+] EnlargeCedric Reed
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesCedric Reed is the pass-rushing headliner of Texas' loaded defensive line.
Chris Rumph wants to surround himself with CEPs: Contract extension players. Rumph loves those kind of guys. They make him look good. You do not, however, want to be a PSP.

“Some other guys that you won’t see out there on Saturdays, they are PSPs: Pink slip players,” Rumph said this spring. “So I want me some CEPs.”

The former Alabama assistant has inherited four dudes who get the job done on the Longhorns defensive line, a group that can set up every other starting defender for success when playing at its disruptive best.

Cedric Reed, the 6-foot-6 senior defensive end who earned All-Big 12 honors last fall as the tag-team partner of Jackson Jeffcoat is a known commodity. Only Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, a potential top-10 NFL draft pick, matched Reed last year in the production of sacks (10), forced fumbles (five) and pass breakups (four).

Reed has CEP written all over him. So does Malcom Brown, the monstrous defensive tackle who enters his junior season with 13 career starts and All-America potential.

Coaches say Brown is as good as he wants to be. He’s become more vocal, unafraid now to point out his peers’ mistakes during film sessions and offer advice. When he talks, they listen.

“They know I’m going to do what I have to do,” Brown said. “I’ve got it down. I know what I’m doing and I’ll tell them when I’m doing something wrong before they even have to tell me.”

Desmond Jackson knows what he’s doing, too. The senior nose tackle who goes by "Tank" has 38 games under his belt and knows exactly what he can bring to this line. When he and Brown clog the middle and break through to the backfield, this defense gets dangerous.

Coming off the other edge is Shiro Davis, who’s beginning to play up to the hype he earned when he flipped from LSU to Texas in the final hour of his recruitment. Now a junior, Davis did more than enough this spring to lock down a starting job.

Altogether, it’s a line that has all the size, strength and speed a first-year coach like Rumph could demand. And nothing pleases Jackson, the veteran of the group, more than to see guys like Brown and Davis on the rise.

[+] EnlargeDerick Roberson
Miller Safrit/ESPNIncoming freshman Derick Roberson could be hard to keep off the field.
“They’re like my brothers to me. Anytime they make a good play, I’m the first one over there hyped up,” Jackson said. “We’re all brothers. That’s like family right there. I’d do anything for them. To see them make huge jumps makes me feel good.”

But the Longhorns will need more than that, and the depth behind them remains an area of uncertainty. Caleb Bluiett will play plenty, and so could fellow third-year end Bryce Cottrell. Hassan Ridgeway is practically a lock to be the third tackle, but still has a way to go. Alex Norman and more backups must emerge, and true freshmen Poona Ford and Derick Roberson could contribute immediately.

No matter who makes the two-deep, the addition of Rumph has brought this group even closer together. In recent years, Oscar Giles oversaw the ends and Bo Davis coached tackles. Nothing wrong with that, but Texas’ defensive linemen are already picking up on the benefits of having one man run the show.

“It’s real different,” Brown said. “I’ve done drills this year that I’ve never done before, that the defensive ends do. We’re all on the same page. We’re all being taught the same thing and doing the same drills. It’s nice, and it has its perks.”

In between telling his guys they’re playing like sasquatches and billy goats, and taunting the quarterback, and threating to send underperformers home with mayonnaise sandwiches, the high-energy Rumph has made clear his expectations.

Close enough doesn’t fly with Rumph or head coach Charlie Strong, not when they’ve been preaching all spring that they intend to win games up front.

“It always starts up front. That’s what they always emphasize,” Brown said. “If we come out the first play and hit somebody in the mouth, they already know we’re there for the whole game and we’re gonna fight for the whole game.”

That's what a CEP sounds like, and Texas could have a bunch of them.

Texas position groups to improve: No. 4

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
9:00
AM ET
Texas is getting off to a later-than-usual start to its spring practices this year, with Charlie Strong set to lead the Longhorns onto the practice field for the first time on March 18.

Until then, we’re counting down everything you need to know entering next season and the next era of Texas football. This week, we’re breaking down the five position groups with the most room to improve in 2014. We broke down the UT tight ends on Monday. Here’s No. 4 on the list:

[+] EnlargeMalcom Brown
John Albright/Icon SMIMalcom Brown is arguably the Big 12's best returning defensive tackle, but depth behind him is a concern for the Longhorns.
4. Defensive Tackles

The players: Malcom Brown, Desmond Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway, Alex Norman, Paul Boyette Jr., Poona Ford, Chris Nelson

Last year: As expected, Brown emerged as one of the best young defensive tackles in the Big 12, recording 68 tackles and finishing third on the team in TFLs (12), pass breakups (five) and QB pressures (six). Jackson recorded 39 tackles, five TFLs and two sacks. Ridgeway recorded 13 tackles and five QB pressures in his redshirt freshman year. Norman and Boyette Jr. combined for three tackles in limited action.

What’s missing: Chris Whaley was the leader of this group and enjoying a breakthrough senior season before suffering a torn ACL. When he went down, the Longhorns’ lack of depth up the middle was exposed, to the point that former DC Greg Robinson relied on lines with three defensive ends playing at once at times.

Texas knows what it has in Brown and “Tank” Jackson, but there was no experienced talent waiting behind them. Add in the fact Texas signed zero defensive tackles in last year’s class and you have to be somewhat concerned about this group entering 2014.

Moving forward: Brown, a former top 15 recruit, played up to his immense potential and can become an All-Big 12 caliber talent in 2014. He’ll anchor this group, while Jackson brings senior leadership but has room to improve. They need help. Ridgeway needs to emerge as a trusted rotational guy.

Norman and Boyette Jr. are entering year three in the program and have been disappointing. It’s time to step up or step aside, because Texas coaches love what they’re getting in Ford, an ESPN 300 signee who could play right away. Where Nelson fits into this group could depend on whether some backups transfer, but he’s bringing lots of confidence to Austin. These freshmen know they can get on the field early if the backups don’t rise up.

Burnt Orange Breakdown: DT Jackson 

August, 1, 2013
8/01/13
12:00
PM ET
During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 99 Desmond Jackson
Junior defensive tackle

Burnt Orange Breakdown: Alex Norman 

July, 30, 2013
7/30/13
12:00
PM ET
During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 94 Alex Norman
Redshirt freshman defensive tackle


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Burnt Orange Breakdown: Ashton Dorsey 

July, 24, 2013
7/24/13
12:00
PM ET
During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 85 Ashton Dorsey
Senior defensive tackle


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 81 Hassan Ridgeway
Redshirt freshman defensive tackle



To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Five Texas redshirt freshmen to watch 

February, 21, 2013
2/21/13
8:00
AM ET
No member of Texas’ 28-man recruiting class in 2012 expected anything less than early playing time when he joined the program, especially after the Longhorns had seemingly thrown every freshman they had on the field the previous season.

You already know plenty about Johnathan Gray, Malcom Brown, Daje Johnson and Texas' other high-impact freshmen. But what about the ones who sat out last season?

For 12 of those 28 signees, getting onto the field in year one just wasn’t in the cards. After spending the fall on the practice field, in the weight room and home in their dorms for road games, those dozen recruits are ready to start making a name for themselves.

It all starts with a breakthrough spring. Last year, tight end M.J. McFarland was really the only redshirt freshman who saw meaningful playing time for the Longhorns. What does 2013 have in store for this year’s crop of second-year freshmen?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Position breakdown: Defensive tackle 

February, 19, 2013
2/19/13
1:30
PM ET
AUSTIN, Texas -- Brandon Moore left and barely an eye was batted.

In years past maybe losing a consistent starter on the defensive line who will likely have a decent NFL career would cause panic. Not in 2013. Not with what Texas should have to offer at the defensive tackle position.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Every Friday, HornsNation recruiting writers William Wilkerson and Max Olson answer a question about the Longhorns.

This week’s question: Which position is Texas’ biggest need for its 2014 class?

William Wilkerson: This comes down to a few positions for me.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

AUSTIN, Texas -- Mack Brown refused to talk about the five recruits Texas didn't get on signing day.

But the Texas coach did have a message for players that might be interested in the Longhorns in the future.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireTexas coach Mack Brown stressed the quality of his 2013 class but was clearly disappointed in the five recruits who decommitted.
"The thing that we will do is we have allowed the kids to commit and still look around the last couple of years -- we're not doing that anymore," Brown said on Wednesday. “If you are committed to us be committed. If you're going to go look, we're going to go look."

It was a strong message and it permeated a signing day that dripped with disappointment over who Texas didn't get -- A'Shawn Robinson (Alabama), Daeshon Hall (Texas A&M), Ricky Seals-Jones (Texas A&M), Durham Smythe (Notre Dame) and Kyle Hicks (TCU) -- as much as the day was held up and celebrated for the 15 players Texas did get.

"What we found is the 15 [recruits] that we got are very passionate about being at Texas and that is what we want," Brown said. "And very honestly if a young person tells you they're coming and their parents tell you they're coming and then they don't, you wouldn't want them to be here.

"You may be disappointed on the day it happened but you want people that will look you in the eye and tell you the truth and you want people who want to be at your school.”

This signing day Texas didn't need that many people at its school. It only had room for about 16. So the search was for quality over quantity. Brown, who because of all the decommitments and misses seemingly has gone from coach February to Father Time with this class, tried to hammer that point home repeatedly.

(Read full post)

The Longhorns don’t have a true defensive end commitment in 2013, but they might be able to do without one.

Jackson Jeffcoat could return for his senior season after tearing his right pectoral muscle against Oklahoma. Even if he doesn’t come back, Texas still has Reggie Wilson, Cedric Reed, Shiro Davis, Hassan Ridgeway and Bryce Cottrell returning.

Then there’s the plethora of defensive ends in 2014, including commitment Derick Roberson, which the Longhorns have to think about.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

AUSTIN, Texas -- Head coach Mack Brown and the rest of the Longhorns coaching staff will continue to evaluate their freshmen class as they try to determine which players to redshirt as the season wears on.

Texas has played 14 freshmen through three games.

“That will probably continue to occur until the seventh week of the season,” Brown said. “You won’t travel with all of them but you still look at them.”

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

AUSTIN, Texas -- A dozen practices into the preseason and Texas coach Mack Brown is no closer to knowing who his quarterback will be against Wyoming.

“I’ve got the same questions you do,” Brown said.

None of which were even answered in the scrimmage Monday night. Brown had thought perhaps either David Ash or Case McCoy would pull away in the competition. But, if anything, the margin between them has narrowed.

“We’re having more of a consensus that both could play right now and win the game for us,” Brown said.

By “we” Brown means the whole coaching staff. Brown has everyone involved in this decision. And if they can’t seem to make a decision, Texas does not appear averse to going into Wyoming (Sept. 1) with a game plan that utilizes two quarterbacks. In fact, right now Texas doesn’t seem too averse to going into the Kansas State game (Dec. 1) with a game plan that features two quarterbacks.

[+] EnlargeMalcolm Brown
Ray Carlin/Icon SMIHead coach Mack Brown said sophomore tailback Malcolm Brown has improved his vision and toughness.
“Both give us the chance to win if they protect the ball,” Brown said.

They did just that in Monday’s scrimmage. There was one turnover but it came on a ball that hit the tight end’s hands and bounced to a defensive back.

“Both [quarterbacks] have improved so much from the spring,” Brown said.

Ash and McCoy have improved in their respective game-management styles as well as their decision-making. Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has also applauded their increased accuracy.

“You can see it in one-on-ones,” Harsin said. “The decision-making is there. What I look for is -- there’s still mistakes and everything, but they can come back now and explain it, or coach themselves up right away. We’ll come back right away and repeat the play and correct it.”

Aside from the play of the quarterbacks all eyes were on the running backs. Freshman Johnathan Gray had most of the carries. The staff wanted to see how he reacted against the defense.

His reviews were not overwhelming but the ones for running back Malcolm Brown were. Brown said he was clearly the best runner on the field. His vision and toughness have both improved, the coach said.

Both Gray and Brown were featured in the “wild” package. Neither had success on the two snaps allotted. Brown was dropped for a two-yard loss. Gray’s play was halted before it started do to mistakes.

Along the line, Texas is moving Luke Poehlmann up to more of a prominent role at tackle. The senior is a couple of years removed from a knee injury now and Brown feels as if he is ready to be the first sub in along the line.

Poehlmann was in for Josh Cochran on Monday. The starting right tackle was rolled up on and suffered a leg injury. It’s nothing that would prohibit him from playing against Wyoming, Brown said.

Texas was also missing linebacker Demarco Cobbs, tight end Miles Onyegbule, defensive tackle Ashton Dorsey, defensive end Alex Norman, defensive end Hassan Ridgeway, kicker Anthony Fera and held out wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.
Norman and Ridgeway, both freshmen, have lingering muscle pull injuries. They could be very serious redshirt candidates because the injuries have limited their practice time.

If Fera is unable to go by Wyoming, Texas would go with either true freshman Nick Jordan or redshirt freshman Ben Pruitt at kicker.

Cobbs, Cochran and Dorsey are not expected to be out long. Goodwin and Onyegbule were only held out for precautionary reasons.

Quarterback Connor Brewer has a mild ankle issue but has remained in practice.
Class of 2013 defensive end Torrodney Prevot (Houston/Alief Taylor) woke up Thursday morning with three offers. By mid afternoon he’d doubled that.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Prevot received an offer from Baylor early in the morning and added offers from Oklahoma and Texas after that.

“It was a crazy day for me,” said Prevot, who already had offers from LSU, Texas A&M and Utah.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Texas RB Foreman Cleared To Play
D'Onta Formean has been cleared academically to join the Longhorns football squad.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video