Meet Spencer Ridenhour!

White Plains HS's Spencer Ridenhour caused spectators at April's Penn State Nike Camp to whisper "who's that?" all day long. Soon after, Spencer decided to become the Nittany Lions sixth commitment of the season. When did he commit? Where will he play at Penn State? Why did the Nittany Lions rise above the rest of the field?

Name: Spencer Ridenhour
Position: Safety
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 212 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.47
Hometown/School: White Plains, Ny. (White Plains HS)

After dropping jaws at the Penn State Nike Camp, it did not take White Plains, New York's Spencer Ridenhour very long to make the Nittany Lion coaching staff a very happy group.  When did he technically commit to Penn State?

"Actually it was the day after the (Nike) camp that I called them, on Monday night.  I told them I had made my decision," stated Spencer.

Recruited by both the defensive backs coach, Brian Norwood, and assistant Head Coach/Offensive co-ordinator, Fran Ganter, Norwood was the coach that Spencer first told about his wanting to be a Nittany Lion.

"He was very excited for me and he felt that it was the best decision," laughed Spencer, who received his offer two weeks before the Nike Camp.

If Spencer committed to Penn State back in April, why didn't his commitment become public knowledge until May 23, when the Westchester Journal News broke the story?

"I just wanted to be certain (about the decision) and just be humble about it all.  I'm excited, but I guess I'm just a modest person," explained Spencer.

Last season for a 7-4 White Plains HS team, Spencer played both strong safety and tailback, amassing 1,153 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.  Although his offensive numbers were quite impressive, Spencer has a definite favorite side of the ball.

"I guess I want to play defense because I like to hit.  Everybody wants to be a running back and there are so many good running backs that there are not enough dbacks.  I just want to perfect being a dback and do it well," said Spencer, who expects to play strong safety or linebacker although the coaching staff has said they want him as an athlete, meaning either offense or defense, for the time being.

In the Journal News article, Spencer mentioned wanting to prove his doubters wrong.  At nearly 6', weighing in at a muscular 212 pounds, benching 325 pounds, and running a 4.47, who would actually doubt your abilities--at least out loud.

"You know how it is, there are haters everywhere.  Being young, playing varsity, I had to mature and grow to play that level.  I guess from day one, some people doubted me and said I wasn't going to be good at all or I wasn't going to go to a college like Penn State," he explained, adding that those who dismissed him when he was younger included former teammates and some local fans.

During his recruiting process, Spencer only visited Maryland besides Penn State, but after his stellar Nike Camp, he drew interest and offers from Michigan State, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, and the aforementioned Terps.

Why did Spencer decide on Penn State so early in the process?

"For one, academics--academics is always at the top.  They have great academics.  Just the overall program too.  The tradition is so felt out there, the players are great, the coach, everyone is close.  You could tell everyone is excited to be playing for Joe Paterno.  There are just so many opportunities at Penn State," stated Spencer, who maintains a 3.5 gpa and will take the SAT in June.

That close family attitude has already reached this year's batch of early verbals, especially Wyatt Bowman, who took it upon himself to welcome Spencer to the Penn State family.

This summer, Spencer plans on camping at both Penn State and one other college.  Does his going elsewhere for camp mean he should be considered a soft verbal for the Nittany Lions?

"No, I'm real solid!  I could always improve my game everywhere, I could always find something new," explained Spencer, who felt coaches from differing backgrounds could give him more information and instruction, like the Nike Camp for example.

At the Nike Camp, Spencer received instruction that he had not been privy to in the past.  What tips did he learn that he had not been taught before?

"Pass coverage (techniques) and the drills, which I want to use to get my footwork and speed better.  The speed coach was excellent.  I really learned a lot from him," said Ridenhour.

Spencer's pedigree in athletics is also a family affair.  He explained that his mom was named an All-American basketball player at Tennessee and his father played linebacker at Southeastern Oklahoma.

Does Spencer feel there is any part of his game that he needs to really work hard on before he enrolls in Penn State during the summer of 2004?

"I don't know.  I just want to get better, everybody can get better.  I just want to perfect my game.  It's not just one aspect, I just  want to be better all around."

(Interview by Steve Curry)

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