Texas defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway celebrates stopping Kansas State during a NCAA college football game at Royal-Memorial Stadium Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. (Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Football

Hassan Ridgeway has no regrets leaving Texas, declaring for NFL Draft

Once unable to finish multiple plays, Ridgeway now turning scouts' heads with power, explosiveness

Posted March 23rd, 2016

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Story highlights
  • Ten Longhorns go through workouts at pro timing day with Johnathan Gray, Peter Jinkens watching.
  • Hassan Ridgeway: 'You only need one team to like you.'
  • Now in the NFL, Malcom Brown, Jordan Hicks, Quandre Diggs all support former teammates.

Hassan Ridgeway heard the talk, all the noise and rampant second-guessing about his decision to leave Texas and jump into the NFL Draft.

Draft analyst Mike Mayock blasted him on the NFL Network during the scouting combine. Mayock admitted he knew nothing of Ridgeway’s personal situation, but he was incredulous why Texas’ 6-foot-3 defensive tackle would leave school early.

“I heard a little noise, talking about why did I come out,” Ridgeway said Wednesday. “I also heard him be quiet after I ran, too. It goes both ways.”

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At the scouting combine in Indianapolis, Ridgeway ran the 40 in 5.02 seconds and had 24 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press. In his mind, Ridgeway felt there was no need to do extra work at Texas’ pro timing event on Wednesday.

Ridgeway said the NFL’s college advisory committee gave him a second-round grade. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown also left after his junior year and blossomed last season as a first-round pick with the Patriots. Ridgeway believes he can make a similar successful jump, too.

So Ridgeway just did agility drills for scouts representing all 32 teams at UT’s indoor practice facility. Other seniors, like Tank Jackson, Daje Johnson and Duke Thomas, did full workouts.

“You only need one team to like you,” Ridgeway said. “Now, you may need more teams to like you to go higher and stuff like that. But you need only one to get into the NFL. And they’ve already said I’m able to play in the NFL. That’s all you need.”

Brown, listed at 6-2, 320 on the Patriots’ roster, looks simply massive now after one year in New England. He’s definitely pulling for Ridgeway to make it in the NFL.

“I mean, some people say pick one team and make them like you,” said Brown, one of several former Horns who came back to watch pro day. “But I can’t just say pick one team. You can always make an impression on any other team.”

Ridgeway’s agent, the veteran Jordan Woy, said he believes Ridgeway is in good position. Scouts like what they’ve seen on tape, and Woy said, “He’s got really good upside.”

Woy said Ridgeway could have anywhere from eight to 10 private workouts with teams in the coming weeks. “I had teams tell me they thought he was more talented than Malcom Brown,” he said.

Once thought to have a lackadaisical approach, Ridgeway didn’t exactly impress new coach Charlie Strong in 2014. As a sophomore, Ridgeway didn’t talk much and couldn’t get through a half-dozen consecutive plays without needing a breather. Strong nicknamed him the “Green Mile.”

However, when healthy and properly motivated, Ridgeway was a terror. “I don’t like being around him when he’s too excited,” linebacker Peter Jinkens said last October, “because he’s strong and I ain’t trying to get hit.”

Dogged by shoulder, ankle and back injuries, Ridgeway played only 11 games last season and started eight. He finished the year with 3.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.

Asked how many games he was fully healthy last season, Ridgeway said, “Probably six, honestly. Maybe five. … I caught my speed, then I get hindered again. But it’s not something where I can sit out. It’s something you have to push through. My team needs me, and I have to play.”

Receiver Marcus Johnson, tight end Alex De La Torre, guard Sedrick Flowers, offensive lineman Marcus Hutchins and defensive end Shiro Davis all put their best foot forward for scouts. Kicker Nick Rose went outside to flex his kickoff strength in windy conditions.

Running back Johnathan Gray (Achilles) and linebacker Peter Jinkens (knee) are still rehabilitating injuries and did not workout.

“You never know who’s watching and when they’re watching,” said former Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks, who was having a terrific rookie season with the Eagles before suffering a torn left pectoral muscle in November.

“My advice for them would be to stay on your A-game at all times,” he added. “This process is long and hard, but it’s a process, and you’ve got to understand that.”

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