LSU. Alabama. USC. Florida. The list goes on.
Top notch schools turn out top notch players on a regular basis. It's not a secret. They've got the funding, the facilities, the pedigrees, and the better opportunities to be drafted, and they get the best recruits.
Mediocre players at the best D-I colleges are drafted ahead of studs at smaller schools all the time, it's just the way things are. NFL teams know these schools turn out players who are more ready for the NFL game. Heck, many believe the two Patriots' first round picks this season are ready to start on the team.
Patriots second-year running back Stevan Ridley looks to be the frontrunner for the running back job now, and coming from LSU feels ready for the task.
"I think LSU did a great job doing the best they could with me, you know what I mean?" he said Wednesday. "The coaches told us when we got at LSU Day 1 how it was going to be if we had dreams of playing at the next level, and that's how they run their program there. So for me a lot of things were very similar. You know, you respect the coaches, you come in and work hard everyday, and there's another man behind you ready to take your spot. As long as you know that going into each day you know how to come in and prepare yourself to put yourself in a position to be a contribution to this team."
But when Ridley walks into the running backs room now, a former fellow LSU Tiger and Patriots running back is no longer there. Kevin Faulk isn't with the team this year. After 13 years in the NFL -- all with the Pats -- Faulk is on the verge of retirement if the Pats don't show interest in him.
That one year spent with Faulk could prove wonders for Ridley though. He undoubtedly let Ridley in on some on-field tips, but it was his leadership by example off the field that will stay with Faulk long after Faulk has retired.
"Man, Faulk taught me a lot of things on and off the field," Ridley said. "But overall he just told me you have to come in here and work everyday. And he was up here for what, 13, 14 years. So appararently he was doing things right. So really I just watched the way that he carried himself and the way he did things. He was a lot of times the first one in and the last one out. So for me and just watching Faulk, that's the way you have to be successful is to dedicate yourself to this program and be a team guy. So that's what I really learned from Faulk.
Ridley says he has Faulk's number, and the two talk from time to time. Not having that veteran presence is a change, but one that Ridley says Faulk would want the backs to adjust to.
"In our running backs room he would want us to come together as a group if he was here," Ridley said. "And that's how he'd expect us to go out there and play as a unit and at the running back position."