Defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway is forgoing his senior season at Texas to enter the NFL draft, the team announced on Saturday.
“I just discussed it with my parents and my family, seeing what was best for me, and right now, I think it’s best to come out this year,” Ridgeway said in a statement. “My teammates and coaches mean a lot to me. Everything that’s happened at UT has helped me, that includes my teammates and coaches, and everything they’ve done has helped me to get to this point.”
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Jan. 15.
Ridgeway, a junior from Mansfield, was slowed by a back injury early in the season but turned into one of the team’s most consistent players, registering 3.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. He also had 36 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Ridgeway missed the season finale against Baylor with an injury.
His departures marks the second year in a row Texas lost a defensive lineman early to the draft. Last year, Malcom Brown left after his junior season and was taken in the first round by the New England Patriots.
For his career, Ridgeway played in 36 games with 92 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles.
“Hassan is a really talented young player whose best years are ahead of him,” Texas coach Charlie Strong said. “We appreciate everything he’s done for Texas, and though we’re disappointed to lose him, we will continue to support him any way we can. We wish Hassan the best.”
The loss of Ridgeway adds to an already pressing need to acquire interior linemen in recruiting. Texas signed just one tackle last year, Du’Vonta Lampkin, who never made it to campus and is now enrolled at Oklahoma.
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