By Larry Fleming
Kameron Ridley, the former Southeast football standout who finished his high school athletic career at Tennessee Temple Academy in Chattanooga and led the Crusaders to the state playoffs, is preparing to launch a college career at Hampden-Sydney College.
“I know the education I’ll get up there will be great,” said Ridley, who will report for preseason practice early next month. “I want to study accounting. I think it will be a good brand of football, too.”
Hampden-Sydney, a member of the NCAA Division III Old Dominion Athletic Conference and located in Hampden-Sydney, Va., has posted a 46-24 record over the last seven seasons under coach Marty Favret. The Tigers went 4-6 last season and finished fourth in their conference. They finished second in each of the previous six seasons.
In 2003, Hampden-Sydney went 9-1 overall and 5-1 in the ODAC, and Favret was selected the conference coach of the year. The Tigers offense led the NCAA that season with a 47.2-point scoring average. The team was also ranked second nationally with 521.4 yards of offense per game.
“I know they have a winning tradition, although last year was a rebuilding year,” Ridley said Thursday. “They told me starting out I’ll get a shot at playing in the backfield, a slot position. The coach called me last week and told me their slot guy had shoulder surgery and would be out for the season. If they need me to move over to defense, I would be at strong safety or free safety.”
Chip Kell, who coached Ridley at Southeast and Temple, said his former player has a bright future at Hampden-Sydney.
“I know Hampden-Sydney coaches are very high on Kameron,” Kell said. “They’ve even discussed using him on kick returns his first year up there.”
Kell, who will be enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame this weekend in South Bend, Ind., will serve as Tennessee Temple’s interim head coach this season after Scott Chastain was asked to step aside, barely seven months after he was selected to succeed Kevin Skogen. Skogen resigned in December and Kell was an assistant coach at Temple last year.
Temple finished 12-1 last season and lost to Friendship Christian Academy in the state quarterfinals, and Ridley was instrumental in the team’s success his senior year.
“We won the state basketball championship in basketball and came within one game of winning it in football,” Ridley said. “It was really a lot of fun. I met a lot of great people. I had really good athletes around me and all the coaches were great.”
Kell said Ridley rushed for 1,400 yards, averaged 11 yards per carry, and played tenacious defense from his safety position.
Ridley, who will report for fall practice on Aug. 9, is the third member of the 2006 Temple team to go on to play in college. Seth Skogen will attend Furman and Josh Smith is going to Cumberland, Kell said.