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Desmond 'Ridding' Himself of Critics

Cincinnati has climbed up to No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press Poll, and it’s due in large part to Desmond Ridder, the quarterback for the Bearcats.

ORLANDO - The man who has led the way for the Bearcats this season would be fifth-year senior quarterback Desmond Ridder. He's begun to receive quite a bit of praise, but it was not always that way for the Cincinnati signal caller.

Ridder was not a sought after recruit coming out of high school, only receiving the one offer from Cincinnati. As shocking as this may be to find out about the 6’4”, 178 pound quarterback from Louisville, Ky., it’s still true.

Despite that fact, Ridder has been Cincinnati's starter since 2018 when he completed 62.4% of his passes for 2,445 and 20 touchdowns. Ridder’s game took a step back in his second season as he played through nagging injuries that caused turnover issues and a drop in his efficiency.

During that time, there were whispers from critics about whether Ridder was truly a big-time college quarterback, or more of just an athlete playing quarterback.

In 2020, however, he enjoyed a revival as a passer. Ridder’s talent was used more efficiently when passing the football, throwing more to tight ends or a sure-handed wide receiver like Alec Pierce. Another asset was that he was used as a running threat, crossing the goal line 12 times.

But a loss to Georgia where he could only muster 206 yards on 37 attempts led people to question if he would ever be an elite quarterback. Ridder responded to critics by putting in time and effort this offseason to improve the one weakness of his game according to critics, and that would be accuracy. Ridder began training with “Quarterback Guru” Jordan Palmer.

Palmer is considered by many as the best trainer for college quarterbacks preparing for the draft. The seven-year NFL veteran started in the training business with a member of the UCF Halll of Fame, former signal caller Blake Bortles.

Palmer said during a TikTok video of why he retired and began training quarterbacks, “My first player that I ever trained was Blake Bortles. (He) had a monster junior year at UCF, went to the Fiesta Bowl. You know the meteoric rise for him came out of nowhere and ended up being the third pick in the draft. When I got a chance to work with him and actually see meaningful changes over a couple months.”

Palmer began working with Ridder this offseason and has been absolutely stunned by his desire to improve. Palmer stated, “When I was talking to him about mechanics and he started asking questions like, ‘Where am I leaking energy? If I don’t get my front foot in the ground, how does that leak energy?’

“And I’d give him the answer, and he’d go, ‘Okay, what are the muscles? How does that get supported?’ It was just the detailed questions that this dude was asking that I realized he was not gonna sit here and go ‘I got a big arm. I got a great team. I got a great coaching staff, let’s go play.’ He was trying and seeking, keyword seeking, to add things to his game.”

Desmond Ridder, Quarterback, Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder, Quarterback, Cincinnati

Ridder’s off season training camp was focused on improving his accuracy and game mechanics, as he was already an experienced player. Ridder trained with Palmer alongside fellow college quarterbacks CJ Stroud of Ohio State and Jarrett Guarantano of Washington State, as well as Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals.

That training has paid off, with Ridder being involved in the 2021 Heisman Trophy race by totaling 1,408 yards and 15 touchdowns while completing 65.5% of his passes. 

He’s led his Bearcats into both Bloomington, Ind. and South Bend, Ind. and picking up wins over the Hoosiers and the Irish by winning both contests by multiple scores. Now with Cincinnati hosting an injury-ravaged UCF squad in what is becoming a heated rivalry, he looks to make another statement during today’s game, ridding himself of critics in the process.

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