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Desmond Ridder Leads the Way for National Team in Senior Bowl Victory

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NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

MOBILE, AL — All was well for former Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder today, who led the National Team to a 20-10 victory in the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

Ridder, the all-time wins leader at UC, tallied two of his team’s three touchdowns en route to a ten-point triumph over the American Team. He completed four of his six passes overall, with Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett delivering the other score while registering six completions on six throws for 89 yards.

“Iron sharpens iron,” Ridder said on competing with the other top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class. “We’re all competing for our No. 1 spot. All competing to get to the best team.”

Among the flashy plays for the Kentucky native was a 25-yard touchdown to Wisconsin TE Jake Ferguson in the second half. He also tacked on another six-yard score to Colorado State TE Trey McBride.

The National Team, which was coordinated by Robert Salah and the New York Jets staff, reinforced its quarterback play with eight recorded sacks on defense. Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey, Penn State’s Jesse Luketa and Boye Mafe each took their opponent’s signals callers to the ground on two separate occasions.

“We didn’t come out here to lollygag through it,” Mafe said. “We told each other to go out and have our best games and play our best football. This was our last time to get to represent our schools so why not go out on a good note.”

Mafe — a defensive lineman out of the University of Minnesota — was honored as the National Team’s Player of the Game. Winfrey (also DL) received overall game MVP honors.

“I’ve been dreaming about being in the Senior Bowl since I was a little kid,” Winfrey said. “I saw Aaron Donald dominate the Senior Bowl and I wanted to be the next to do that.”

The two linemen are likely among those who will see their draft stock skyrocket in the following days. For Ridder, the speculation will continue to ensue on where the former College Football Playoff-bound quarterback should go, though he is listed as the No. 23 overall prospect on Pro Football Focus’s Draft Big Board.

Bulking up Cincinnati’s impressive draft class, linebacker Darrian Beavers, cornerback Coby Bryant, running back Jerome Ford, wide receiver Alec Pierce and defensive end Myjai Sanders made showings for the Bearcats throughout the week. Bryant failed to earn any notable action on the field on Saturday, but was named top defensive back of the week after the practices commenced. He also raked in the National Team’s top cornerback honors.

“We all have a great relationship, we’re brothers,” the Jim Thorpe Award winner said of his teammates (specifically defense). “We push each other, whether it’s me or Mad (Ahmad Gardner), or Beavers or Myjai, whoever it may be, we push each other. This opportunity this week is big for us. We just got to go out and seize it and take it day by day.”

The 2022 NFL Draft will officially kick off on April 28th in Las Vegas, Nevada. Round 1 is expected to see former Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner go early, with Ridder also having a chance to get on stage towards the latter end of the night. Bryant is forecasted to be the next guy taken off the board as a Day 2 pick.