Ritter Ready

Andrew Ritter, the placekicker from Jackson, was about to enter his senior season this time last year when all of a sudden, things changed.

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"They told me about a week before the first game last year (against Central Arkansas) that I was going to be redshirted," Ritter said. "It was weird and it was difficult."

But he adjusted, and now he's ready to kick again in his fifth and final season of Ole Miss football.

Ritter's kicking teammate, Tyler Campbell, of Little Rock, Ark., is once again the starting punter for Ole Miss. It's his fifth and final season as well, and both will be important factors to whatever success the Rebels have this season.

Freeze stated in August of last year he was doing so simply because he wanted the two excellent veterans to be the placekicker and punter this year.

And also because he had faith in seniors Bryson Rose and Jim Broadway as well as freshman Nathan Noble to get the job done. And for the most part they came through.

Broadway did all the punting and wound up averaging 41 yards on 57 punts with a long one of 61 yards.

Rose did all the placekicking, went 18 for 28 in the field goal department with a long of 53 yards, and kicked the game-winner at Arkansas with a 31-yarder as time expired.

Ritter, who mainly served the Rebels in the kickoff role from 2009-11, said his father gave him some sound advice when it was announced he wasn't going to play last season.

"My dad said you need to go ahead and think you'll be playing that first game, because you never know," Ritter said. "That helped me stay focused and continue to work hard."

After three years of playing and one year of sitting, Ritter still has yet to kick a field goal or an extra point for Ole Miss.

"I've definitely waited a while," he said. "I'm ready to get out there and score some points and help this team in that way. I'm really excited and it's an awesome opportunity."

Andrew Ritter
Bruce Newman

But patience would turn out to be a key factor for Ritter. He never really considered leaving at any point in his career as he waited his turn. And waited and waited.

"This is my home. Born and raised in Mississippi. My family is Ole Miss graduates," he said. "This is where I want to be and signed to be. I've always wanted to help this team as much as possible."

Ritter, at 6-3, 225, said his leg strength is better than ever. As a mature placekicker now, he believes he may get a shot at some long attempts if the Rebels need him to do so.

"I feel really confident (Freeze) is going to let me try some long ones," Ritter said. "He saw me hit a 58-yarder. He mentioned we'll have to try something like that this season. In practice he usually takes me back about 57 yards. Him doing that shows me he has the confidence to allow me to do that in a game."

Ritter said he's the best he's ever been, and he is ready for a successful year.

"Consistency, experience, wisdom," he said. "When I was younger I had a tendency to overkick in practice. But I've really been able to figure out what my body can take and can't. I just feel wiser when it comes to preparing and becoming more durable."

Ritter is the No. 1 placekicker as the season begins. But he is aware there is always someone waiting in the wings to unseat him. So he works with that being the case.

"As of now, I'm No. 1," Ritter said. "But it's always a competition. It doesn't matter what anybody says. I have some kickers behind me who are great and push me and compete with me for that job. I have to come out here every day and win this job. That's what I have to continue to try to do."

For Ritter, like Campbell, there was a lot of watching during the exciting 2012 bowl season for the Rebels. He said he wants to experience at least that this season. And hopefully more.

"We've got to get to a bowl," Ritter said. "This is my last go-round. I want to get to as big a one as possible."

And then it will all have been worth the wait.

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