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Beyond X's and O's with Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati QB


What sports did you play in high school?

  • “My freshman year I ran track, and played basketball, volleyball, and football. I actually really liked volleyball; I made JV my freshman year but made Varsity my sophomore year, won state and I was the State MVP that year."

What is your biggest motivator?

  • “Honestly, now my family. I just had my baby girl in April. Not only her, but my entire extended and close-nit family is my biggest motivator.”

How has football prepared you to be a dad, and how has being a dad prepared you for football?

  • “They kind of work hand-in-hand both with time management and patience. You’ve heard about time management, obviously you have to have that while playing college football, but then there are times when days are long and nights are tough, and you just have to have patience with staying grounded and with where you’re at in life. I really think that just my patience and letting things play themselves out is what helps me be the best that I can be.”

What is your day-to-day routine?

  • “I wake up at 6 and get to the facility at 7. We have meetings from around 7:30 – 9 and then usually get treatment from around 9 – 10:30, then I’ll lift and get more treatment, and have lunch around noon. I usually have media availability from around 11:30 – 1:30. We start team meetings at 1:30 then we go into individual meetings. We are on the field from around 2:30 – 5 for practice. Then at 5 we bring in the O-line and tight ends for post-practice meetings until about 6. Then I get more treatment from about 6 – 7, and then go home and grab dinner. By then, my daughter is usually already asleep so my dad duties are off the table most days. Then I just try to get some rest. That’s what is kind of tough is that I really only get to see my daughter on the off days because I am usually gone before she wakes up and don’t get back until after she is already asleep.”

What is your pregame attire?

  • “We have team travel suits. It’s just sweatpants and sweatshirts – that is how we all come to the Cat Walk and come to the game.”

Who is your role model?

  • “My biggest role model is my mom. You know, she had me at a young age – she had me at 15. Having a kid myself, now obviously not at 15, but still at a younger age, I kind of look to her for most of the things I do because she has done it before. A lot of people say she has raised a good man, so I look up to everything that she does and how she goes about living her life.”

What is your favorite college football memory?

  • “My favorite college football memory would probably be winning the conference championship last season. Through all the ups and downs we had last season with Covid and not knowing whether we were even going to play football or not – just being able to come out and have the season we had last year and being able to come out and win a conference championship, which we have been trying to do since I got here, was probably my favorite accomplishment so far.”

Tell me about your journey from a 2-star recruit to the winningest QB in Bearcats history.

  • “So, coming out of high school, I only had two offers – Cincinnati and EKU. I came and took a visit here early on and my mom told me to stay within 6 hours from home and Cincinnati is only an hour and a half away. It was a place I knew I could go play early. I kind of had some history with Cincinnati just being from Louisville. Those two teams used to be in the Big East so playing against each other, I kind of knew what the program was like and what it was about. I was getting recruited by Coach Tuberville and Coach Taylor, the head coach for the Bengals. When Coach Tuberville and his staff left, Coach Fickell came in and saw something in me that they liked and so they extended the offer. I came here as a true freshman, and we went 4-8 – I was the scout team quarterback. Through scout team I just felt like I was trying to get better day in and day out against our number one defense, you know it just kind of made me a better player. As a young guy, you look for any reps you can get and as scout team quarterback, those were the reps that I was getting. I was just taking advantage of them so going into the Spring my redshirt freshman year, I was able to come out here and just play football, and actually get to play with and against the ones. I just played my game these past couple years and have just tried to get better year in and year out.”

What are you most looking forward to the rest of the season?

  • “Just really finishing out these games and enjoying this time with the rest of my teammates for the short time that we have left together. I have built up memories and good friendships with all of my teammates here at Cincinnati. I’m just really looking forward to spending these next couple of months with my teammates in the locker room and really just enjoying my brothers.”

Who is a WR in the NFL you want to throw a touchdown to?

  • “I’d throw a touchdown to any of them. I’d say Julio Jones would be a cool one, he or Mike Evans. I feel like those two are great NFL receivers who really embody what it means to be a professional football player.”

Who is the best player you have ever played against?

  • “It’s funny you say that because there was just a poll on Twitter asking, ‘Who would you rather have on your team – Chase Young or the nose guard, #99 from Georgia right now,’ and you know I’ve played against both of those guys, and they are two specimens of a human being. But I think the best player I have ever played against is Chase Young, he is just an animal. He is definitely a guy I would want to have on my defense and not playing against for sure.”

Can you talk a little bit about playing Georgia last year in the Peach Bowl. Most of that Georgia Defense is back this year and will be at the Senior Bowl. Can you tell me what makes them so great?

  • “Yeah, they are just smart players. They are smart, physical, fast players. When I say fast I mean they fly to the ball, there is really no hesitation in their game. They are a lot bigger than what we see on a weekly basis. They play hard and they like to mix up their looks on the back end and try to confuse the quarterback. When they do, they go up and make the plays that are needed to be made.”

Tell me about Alec Pierce, and what has made him so successful this season?

  • “He is a good dude and a kind-hearted guy. He is a guy that is going to work hard day in and day out. He is an engineering major so he is smart on and off the field. He’s got freaky athletic abilities being able to run fast and jump high. He’s got the height, he’s got the strength, and he has just really developed his game from what he was as a freshman. He came in as a freshman as a wide receiver, but I think later towards the end of his freshman year, they wanted to try him out at linebacker. He stayed there through Spring ball and then eventually, lucky enough for me, he got moved back to receiver which is when we started growing our connection. He has been an overall weapon for us. Like I said, you could put the ball within about a 10-foot radius of his body and he is going to go up and make the play for us. He is definitely a guy that a lot of people are just getting awoken to, but he is going to be a great asset to someone’s team one day.”

Is there an QB in the NFL that you try to model your game after?

  • “I would say there are a couple. Guys like Deshaun Watson and Ryan Tannehill, or someone like Marcus Mariota are who I try to model my game after. I would say I am more of a Marcus Mariota kind of guy. I just take little things from him, Deshaun and Ryan Tannehill as well.”

What do you look for when watching tape on the opposing team?

  • “I look at how fast they get off the ball as far as the D-linemen go. I look at if the D-linemen are really engaging with the O-line, or if they are kind of just standing back and waiting for them to come. I watch how the DBs play – how much depth they play with and really just how they fly around to the ball. I think if you watch teams, you will kind of see their nature and how they act when they get hit in the mouth. It is one thing to go in there and play football and be able to just run everybody over and run up the score, but it’s another thing when a team gets hit in the mouth, and I don’t just mean mentally, I mean physically when teams come out and hit you in the mouth, how do they respond – are they still flying to the ball, or do they relax and take a break. So, just being able to see how a team is like that is really what I look for.”

Is there an area in your game you want to improve on the rest of this season?

  • “I would say my intermediate passes. The 12 – 22-yard range throws, anywhere in there is what I need to work on the most. I am really just working on being able to drop and layer the ball in that range.”

Senior Bowl had a Nike Jersey ready for you to graduate last year, but talk about your decision to come back for your senior year.

  • “Obviously, that was a big decision for me. I think first of all, if you just talk about the quarterback class from last year, there were a lot of big-name guys out there and at the time I wasn’t a big-name guy, so to speak. I knew if I came back, I could propel myself to be one of those big-name guys and one of the top quarterbacks in the class, instead of just being in that 5th, 6th, 7th round of where I felt like I was at. I also knew I was having my daughter in the upcoming months and that sense of security being here in Cincinnati and knowing where the nearest Target and Wal-Mart is and where the nearest grocery store is, is what made it pretty easy for me to make that decision. Coming back was a security blanket for me and my family.”

What were your major touch points coming into this season?

  • “There were a lot of things in Cincinnati that I thought that, not only as an individual, but as a team, we could improve on. Coach Fickell always talks about leaving the place better than how you found it, and while I felt like I did that, I knew there was more that could be done for not only the team and for me individually, but as a university and as a program.”

If you could bring one teammate to the NFL with you, who would it be?

  • “I would bring a lot of them to the NFL if I could. I’d say Myjai Sanders or Sauce Gardner, so I don’t have to play against them. Then Josh Whyle and any of my O-linemen.

You’re stuck on a deserted island with three teammates – who are they?

  • “I’m going Cam Jones who is an offensive lineman because he is very outdoorsy. I’d go with Josh Whyle and then Cole Smith. He’s our kicker – he is smaller so hopefully he wouldn’t have to eat as much food or drink as much water. We should be good.”