By Danny Cox
Name: Stevan Ridley – RB – #22
Weight: 220 lbs.
Hometown: Natchez, MS
Experience: 3 years
When you're a football player, there's always competition––it's the name of the game. It's expected that players will have to compete with a couple teammates to prove their worth and earn their spot. What's not presumed is that a player will have to climb his way through a big-time crowd every single game.
This is exactly what New England Patriots' running back Stevan Ridley has had to do for his entire adult life.
Ridley's high school career showed a lot of promise, as he was already poised to attend Louisiana State University (LSU) and knew he wanted to make a name for himself. That was going to be a difficult task though, as the Tigers always have a plethora of talent at every position.
During his freshman season at LSU, Ridley came onto a team that already had Keiland Williams, Charles Scott and Richard Murphy in the backfield. It was going to be hard for Ridley to even get the chance to step up, and that was shown by his stats.
As a freshman, Ridley only had 12 rushing attempts for 92 yards and one touchdown.
During his sophomore season, Ridley battled for playing time against Williams, Murphy, Scott, Michael Ford, and speedster Trindon Holliday. He improved upon his first year, but still only ended up with 45 rushing attempts for a mere 190 yards and three scores.
Ridley was actually listed as a fullback on the Tigers' squad for his first two years at LSU, but got moved over to running back for his junior season. The backfield grew with the addition of Alfred Blue and Spencer Ware, but it was Ridley's turn to shine.
He was voted the team captain of the Tigers and rushed for 1,147 yards and 15 touchdowns to finish his college career.
Steven Ridley was chosen in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots with the 73rd overall pick. Once again though, Ridley was going to be in crowded company in the backfield. He'd have to use his talent to earn his spot and show that he deserved to not only be on the team, but lead the running back crew.
The Patriots had long-time veteran, and another former Tiger, Kevin Faulk, who was a staple for New England. Then there was BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, and Shane Vereen. Vereen was actually taken in the same draft as Ridley, but just one round earlier, so the pressure was on the former LSU back.
Even though he appeared in all 16 games as a rookie, Ridley got very little work. He finished the season with 441 yards and just one touchdown. That was enough though, and the Patriots put their full faith in him for the next season.
Kevin Faulk had retired. Green-Ellis was let go. Vereen just didn't pan out. Woodhead was more prominent in the passing attack. This was Ridley's team as far as running backs go. He persevered and racked up 1,263 yards on the ground and an amazing 12 touchdowns in his second season in the NFL.
Now, heading into his third season with the Patriots, Stevan Ridley has proven to everyone that he deserves to be the star running back in New England. After years and years of working his way through a veritable sea of backfield talent, Ridley has shown that he is a man worthy to start for one of the most storied NFL franchises.
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