ATHENS — There were a lot of mini-revelations after Georgia’s first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday. One of them was that Alabama’s Calvin Ridley wanted his little brother play for the Bulldogs.
Not only did Riley Ridley — formerly known as Cavin Ridley — follow his brother’s advice, but he also became an early enrollee at Georgia. And now, midway through spring practice, he is included in the Bulldogs’ receiver rotation. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound wideout from Coconut Creek, Fla., was working with the second- and third-team offenses Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
“He is,” head coach Kirby Smart said of Ridley being part of the receiver rotation at this point. “He rolled in there with the twos today and he went with the threes as well. … He’s a competitive kid and he’s tough. He’s got to work on his vertical speed; he’s not a super fast guy. But he’s a kid from South Florida that is not afraid to compete. He blocks. He tries really hard and it’s important to him that he does well.”
Ridley is, of course, the younger brother of Calvin Ridley, who burst on the scene as a big-play wide receiver for the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide last fall. The 6-1, 188-pound speedster got loose to make 89 catches for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Smart, who was defensive coordinator at Alabama for the last eight years, obviously knows the Ridley family, Calvin and Riley included. It was just assumed that the younger brother would follow his older sibling to Tuscaloosa. But he actually committed to South Carolina during the Under Armour All-American game and didn’t commit to Georgia until the January weekend he took his official visit to Athens.
Having former Miami offensive coordinator James Coley on board at that point apparently also helped the Bulldogs’ cause.
Smart’s not sure. He’s just glad he has Riley Ridley on his roster.
“I do have a good relationship with his brother,” Smart said after Saturday’s scrimmage at Sanford Stadium. “His brother was very adamant that he wanted Riley to come here. I can’t really tell you why; I don’t know why. But he just wanted him here.”
And now that he’s at Georgia, all indications are that Ridley is going to find his way on the field, one way or another.
“Where he’s impressed me the most is on special teams,” said Smart, who is heavily involved in special teams. “He’s playing a wing on a punt team, which is not normal for a receiver. They’ve got to block big guys. But he sticks his face in there and does a nice job. I’m pleased with where he’s at.”
Riley is one of six midyear enrollees that the Bulldogs signed this past January. Also getting their first taste of college football at full speed on Saturday were quarterback Jacob Eason, defensive back Chad Clay, offensive lineman Ben Cleveland, tight end Isaac Nauta and defensive lineman Julian Rochester
“That was the first time for them that it was big-boy ball out there,” Smart said. “They had to tackle and hit and do everything. Those guys did a nice job. … That’s an awakening for them when they get to get out there and see how fast it is.”