In a country littered with starpower at the wide receiver position, it isn’t crazy to suggest that Calvin Ridley not only belongs in that upper echelon of pass catchers, but to also designate him as the best of them all.
With just one season under his belt, the Florida native put himself in that discussion with an outstanding 2015 campaign. Ridley caught 89 passes, streaked for 1,045 yard sand found the end zone seven times. Not too bad for wide receiver who played in an offense that was built around bell cow and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry eh?
Ridley displayed a dynamo ability as a big-play receiver in 2015. If you don’t believe me, you can just ask the Michigan State Spartans defense. They were given a front row seat to his abilities as a playmaker downfield in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
In that game, Ridley caught eight passes for 138 yards, amounting for a yards per reception of an astonishing 17.3. It wasn’t the highest mark of the season though. No, that came against the Georgia Bulldogs where Ridley ran circles around the ‘Dawgs’ defense for a YPR of 24. In the final eight games of the season, Ridley amassed over 600 yards and a YPR of 11.92, displaying a raucous ability to make plays from anywhere on the field.
Don’t think that it’s just his deep threat abilities that haunt defenders either. He’s fleet footed and can juke you out of your shoes. Just ask the poor Mississippi State defender seen below. (Side note: Ouch! at the defender that Kenyan Drake knocked down)
(h/t SB Nation/CBS)
It’s easy of course to become infatuated with a player based on a few highlight clips, but the truth of the matter is that Calvin Ridley is that good. It’s not just hype, flash, flair and buzz. He had an outstanding freshman season that garnered all sorts of praise from many. He was named to the preseason All-SEC first team earlier in the offseason and is a likely candidate to be a preseason All-America selection too. Not only that: Calvin Ridley has the skill set to join the illustrious group of receivers that came before him under head coach Nick Saban.
Those of course are Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. Both were pivotal players on National Championship-winning squads for the Tide since Saban arrived to Tuscaloosa and while he had a paltry six catch, 14 yard in the title-winning game against Clemson in January, Ridley already proved himself to be a game-changing wide receiving threat in the SEC Championship and semifinal round before it.
What might cause more concern for opposing defenses this time around is because Henry is no longer in the backfield, Ridley may receive more attention from whomever winds up under center for the Crimson Tide. The SEC certainly has a slew of great defensive backs, but Ridley already proved himself to be a handful for defenses a year ago. Imagine what he can do as the primary threat this time around.
Another year older and another year wiser, Calvin Ridley may prove to be too hot to handle and too cold to hold if he can shape into form again in 2016.