Provo • Right before Thanksgiving in 2011, BYU receiver Skyler Ridley suffered a concussion and injured his shoulder when he was hit by teammate Daniel Sorensen in practice during his third season as a member of the scout team.
The walk-on from Murrieta, Calif., woke up the next morning, and decided he’d had enough. The 2011 season would be his last.
Ridley’s journey from walk-on to starter
2007 » Spurned offers from UTEP, USU to walk on at BYU, redshirted
2008-09 » Church mission to Manchester, England
2010 » Returned to BYU, joined scout team
2011 » Another year on scout team, didn’t play
2012 » After almost quitting in the spring, caught a touchdown pass in opener against Washington State
2013 » Started in 19-16 loss to Virginia, caught three passes for 29 yards
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"I realized, man, I am just getting beat up, for not even an opportunity to run out of the stadium with the team. For nothing. I think that was the lowest point in my experience at BYU."
Ridley told coaches he was finished, that he was going to concentrate on finishing his schoolwork, going to medical school and marrying his ever-supportive sweetheart, Jasmine, who is getting her master’s degree in accounting at BYU.
For about two weeks in the spring of 2012, Ridley’s college football career was over. But just before camp, then-offensive coordinator Brandon Doman and then-receivers coach Ben Cahoon met with him, and talked him into giving it one more go.
The 6-foot, 182-pound senior is obviously thrilled that he did, and so are BYU coaches. Ridley was BYU’s leading receiver — albeit for just three catches for 29 yards — in Saturday’s 19-16 loss to Virginia.
"It was a thrill," Ridley said of his first-ever start. "To be a part of the team, the program, and to play a significant role in helping our team, it is a privilege."
Ridley’s parents, Kevin and Kimbur, and wife made the trip to Charlottesville to watch the historic moment for the family, and were on the front row near the tunnel to BYU’s locker room. It was a trip down memory lane for Kimbur Ridley, who graduated from a high school in Virginia.
"My parents played a big role in helping me to push forward in hard times," said Skyler Ridley, who was awarded a scholarship in 2012. "My wife has played a significant role, too, in helping me go forward. I think they were all proud and excited."
Actually, Ridley made his first mark in the program the first time he suited up. He caught a touchdown pass against Washington State in the 2012 opener and had a career-high six catches for 54 yards. He finished the season with 20 catches for 206 yards.
Ridley supplanted Ross Apo as a starter on the depth chart last spring, and coach Bronco Mendenhall said during fall camp that when NFL scouts stopped by practices to watch Cody Hoffman, several of them asked about Ridley.
"He just goes one speed," Mendenhall said. "He runs great routes, and he’s quick, fast and tough. He is one of those guys that this program is all about."
A baseball and football star in high school, Ridley drew some interest from UTEP, Utah State, Utah and others, but coaches backed off when he told them he had decided to walk on at BYU.
Now, the former walk-on is preparing to face Texas on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium (5 p.m., ESPN2), two years after almost giving up. His dedication to the program was rewarded last week when teammates voted him a team captain.
"It’s been quite a journey, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything."
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