The Recruiting Guy:

Hogs land top DT transfer

By: Richard Davenport Richard Davenport's Twitter account
Published: Sunday, April 25, 2021
An Arkansas football helmet sits on the sideline during a game between the Razorbacks and Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Fayetteville.
( Charlie Kaijo)
An Arkansas football helmet sits on the sideline during a game between the Razorbacks and Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Fayetteville.

Arkansas has received the commitment from one of the top defensive line transfers in the nation with the pledge of Illinois State transfer John Ridgeway.

“I’m very excited to get there,” Ridgeway said. “I’m excited to be a Razorback because of the family feeling I was feeling from the coaches and they’re really friendly and I felt really accepted by them. Also, the defensive scheme is similar to the one I’m use to while I was at ISU. Just being able to play in the SEC as well, one of the toughest conferences to play football in and the culture being built at Arkansas.”

Rideway, 6-6, 325 pounds, had 22 tackles, 3 for losses and 1 interception as a junior during the Redbirds’ four game spring season. He had offers from about 13 schools such as Arkansas, Texas, Penn State, Michigan, Arizona State, Southern Cal and others.

He was an All-Missouri Valley Football Conference Honorable Mention selection as a sophomore and started all 15 games at nose guard for the Redbirds. He had 50 tackles, including 28 unassisted tackles, and 3 tackles for loss.

Ridgeway was able to develop bonds with Coach Sam Pittman and defensive line coach Jermial Ashley during online meetings.

“Coach Pittman is a real friendly guy,” Ridgeway said. “He met my parents. I felt the bond the way he talked wit his players. A lot of head coaches don’t talk to their players enough or when they do talk to them they don’t know a way to connect with them or even interact with them in a way to have a bond. With him being able to talk to me and me being able to pick up conversations and talk defense and being an overall good person I just wanted to play underneath him.”

He’s looking forward to playing for Ashley.

“I trust him and I know he can make me into a real good defensive lineman,” Ridgeway said. “He’s a real good coach. I was able to learn things off of just the meetings we had. I just felt like Arkansas would be an overall great fit for me.”

Ridgeway was named an FCS Freshman All-America selection by Phil Steele and was on the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team after playing in all 11 games with 10 starts. He recorded 30 tackles, 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss.

He had 102 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, 1 sack and 1 interception during his three seasons at Illinois State.

Ridgeway reports a 385-pound bench press, 550-pound squat and 335-pound power clean. He plans to report to Fayetteville on May 23.

“To be able to play in front of 76,000 fans is nice, too,” Ridgeway said.

Former Little Rock Parkview and Missouri defensive tackle Markell Utsey announced earlier on Sunday his plans to transfer to Arkansas.

Ridgeway and Utsey are the sixth and seventh transfers to join Arkansas for the 2021 season. Former Charlotte offensive tackle Ty'Kieast Crawford, former Penn State defensive back Trent Gordon along with former Ole Miss quarterback Kade Renfro and Marian (Ind.) University safety Darrell Wilson enrolled at semester and participated in spring practice.

Former Florida State receiver Warren Thompson is a walkon that's expected to report to Fayetteville in May.

Renfro and Wilson are also walk-ons. Wilson has since entered the portal and will transfer from Arkansas.


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