Skyler Ridley overcomes adversity on way to spotlight

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Many young athletes playing in their backyards dream of scoring the winning touchdown in a big game. Skyler Ridley was able to do just that on Oct. 19 as BYU took down Houston 47-46.

With less than two minutes left in the game and BYU down by five, the offense took the field determined to come away with a win against then-unbeaten Houston. On the first play of the drive, Ridley caught a 28-yard pass that put the Cougars on the 20-yard line. Two plays later, Ridley caught the gaming-winning touchdown, which was just the second touchdown catch of Ridley’s college career.

Skyler Ridley celebrates his game-winning touchdown against Houston with teammates in the end zone. Photo courtesy BYU Photo.
Skyler Ridley celebrates his game-winning touchdown against Houston with teammates in the end zone. Photo courtesy Mark Philbrick/ BYU Photo.

“I knew that I had one-on-one on the outside and that there was a high probability that Taysom was going to throw it to me. He made a great throw; I just had to hold on to it,” Ridley said. “I’ve said it before, but celebrating with my teammates in the end zone and to come back and win the game like that was a pretty awesome experience.”

During his high school career at Murrieta Valley High in California, Ridley played both baseball and football and was recruited by the University of Texas-El Paso, the University of San Diego, Utah, Idaho and Utah State. Ultimately he decided to walk on at BYU.

“This university is unique. It’s special in so many ways, and as a young man I was preparing to serve a mission,” Ridley said.  “I felt like that was the biggest factor in me choosing to come here because there was no other place that I thought could better prepare me for that than this school.”

Ridley redshirted his freshman year at BYU, and was later called to serve in the England Manchester mission. During his service, Ridley felt he received an impression that if he put in the hard work, football would eventually pay off.

When his two years were finished, Ridley came back to BYU determined to work hard and succeed on the field.

The coaches were happy to have him back with the team, and they decided to assign him to the scout team, where Ridley would spend the next two years, which he said were some of the most difficult times of his college career. During those years, Ridley thought about quitting football for good.

“There was a point when some tough decisions needed to be made,” Ridley said. “After a lot of thought, I decided that I’ve come this far and I might as well finish … for my wife and my parents and for the sacrifices that they made during the process as a walk-on helping me get through school. I felt like I owed it to them.”

With his hard work and dedication, Ridley was able to make it off the scout team his junior year and was awarded a scholarship. As a junior, he finished the season with 20 catches for 206 yards and one touchdown against Washington State. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall said the way Ridley has battled through years on the scout team impressed him.

“I did give an award to Skyler Ridley for just grit, determination and resolve,” Mendenhall said after last year’s win over Washington State. “For how many years he’s battled on the scout team, how hard he’s wanted to be a part of the program and how much it meant to him. To play as hard as he played, it was so refreshing to have no sense of entitlement but just gratitude.”

Ridley’s example of hard work has not gone unnoticed by others, as he was voted to be a team captain for his final year.

“I was a little surprised. We got some big-name players on this team,” Ridley said. “But it’s a great honor, and I’m grateful that the team trusts me with that role and that responsibility.”

When reflecting back on his college career, Ridley is just happy to be here and see others succeed around him.

“There’s been some games that I’ve been a part of and seeing other guys have success … memories like that are things that I’ll never forget,” Ridley said. “Just being part of this team this year is something that is pretty cool.”

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