Having never stepped foot in Arkansas before in his young life, Jackson (Miss.) Academy kicker-punter Andrew Ritter didn't know quite what to expect this weekend.
But after a few days in Fayetteville on an official visit to the University of Arkansas, Ritter (6-4, 205) went away extremely impressed.
"I couldn't have been more pleased with what I found," Ritter said. "It's simply beautiful up there with the mountains. The football program is absolutely top-notch with great facilities. The coaches and players were great and they have a tremendous business school – it's state of the art and I think ranked 24th in the country. I got to tour it and was so impressed. That's important to me because that is what I am going to major in."
Ritter was offered a scholarship Monday night by Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino, who flew to Jackson and had dinner with Ritter and his parents, who accompanied him on the visit this weekend.
Petrino kept his sales job going this weekend with Ritter on campus. He was one of two official visitors this weekend along with former Pulaksi Academy tailback Broderick Green (6-2, 235), who is transferring from USC to Arkansas at semester.
"He (Petrino) let me know again just how much they wanted me, how much they needed me and how I could step in right away," Ritter said. "I feel extremely honored by the emphasis they are putting on me and it makes me feel very good and really shows me a lot. My family and I felt extremely welcomed this weekend."
Ritter has official visits scheduled to Southern Mississippi (Jan. 9-11) – who has offered him a scholarship - and Ole Miss (Jan. 16-18), who has asked him to walk on a year before going on scholarship.
Asked if those visits would still happen or he might commit to Arkansas before that, Ritter said he just didn't know at the moment.
"I am going to go home and pray about this and just do a lot of thinking," Ritter said. "I'm not sure yet. I was extremely impressed with Arkansas, extremely impressed. I will just think and pray and let God lead me down a path."
His parents and other members of his family have attended Ole Miss.
"I really like both schools – Arkansas and Ole Miss, where a lot of people in my family have gone," Ritter said. "But the fact that my family went there won't really have any influence. I have to make the best decision for myself and my future."
Ritter booted 52 of his 53 kickoffs into the end zone this season and averaged 81 yards per kickoff at an LSU camp this past summer.
He was 8-of-14 on field goal attempts with a school-record long of 58 and four makes of over 50. All of the misses were from over 50 and four of them were from 60 or longer.
Ritter, who also averaged 41.5 yards per punt, said Petrino has a plan for him as a true freshman.
"Coach Petrino said it is hard for a freshman to come in and handle all three things so the plan would be for me to come in and concentrate on kicking off and kicking field goals and extra points and that makes a lot of sense to me," Ritter said.
It's known that three Arkansas quarterbacks – Ryan Mallett, Tyler Wilson and Jim Youngblood – are all very good punters.
"Coach Petrino talked about that and he also said they redshirted a freshman that would have a chance to be the punter as well," Ritter said. "But he also talked about how I could get up there early this summer and work on my punting and we would just see how it went."
Arkansas Impresses Ritter
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