December 22, 2008

Ritter's trip to Oxford answers questions

Ole Miss didn't entertain any official visitors last weekend, but the Rebels did have an invited guest checking out Friday's bowl preparations.

Jackson (Jackson Academy), Miss., kicker Andrew Ritter was invited to No. 20 Ole Miss' next-to-last on-campus practice for the Rebels' Jan. 2 AT&T Cotton Bowl date against No. 8 Texas Tech.

"It was good to get up there and see how practice is," Ritter said on Monday afternoon. "Going to the games, you don't see what happens behind the scenes, how the coaches and players interact and what it's really like.

"Coach Nutt invited me and my dad to come up, sit down and visit and then eat afterwards. He was just laying everything out there for me and kind of telling me what everything will be like. He just wanted to show me what all they have to offer me."

Speaking of offers, there has been a lot of discussion about whether Ole Miss would offer the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Ritter, and if so, what kind of offer it would be. While he didn't want to go into specifics Monday, Ritter said he and the Ole Miss have "covered all of that. I know exactly what is being offered to me. I consider it a full ride, to be honest. I'm happy with it."

Ritter, ranked by as the nation's No. 15 kicker, converted 52 of 53 extra point attempts, made eight of 14 field goals _ including a 58-yarder _ and finished the season with a 41.5-yard punting average. The Ole Miss offer gives Ritter two from SEC programs, including one from Arkansas.

"It definitely means a lot," said Ritter, who also possesses offers from Southern Mississippi, Army and Northwestern (La.) State. "Growing up, that's always been a dream of mine and a goal of mine (to play in the SEC). I never really knew if it would come true. I'm truly blessed. It's a tough decision, but it's a great position to be in."

Ritter's decision won't necessarily come down to Arkansas and Ole Miss. Ritter has already visited Arkansas officially. He'll travel to Southern Miss on Jan. 9 and to Ole Miss on Jan. 16. LSU, Ritter said, "has been talking to me since I went to their summer camp. I'm still talking to them and seeing what all's going to happen. They've talked about an official visit. I don't know when I would take it, but they've talked to me about it."

Ritter said his trip to Arkansas was a good one, adding that he was impressed with the Hogs' facilities and the overall Fayetteville experience. However, Ritter's not ready to name the Razorbacks _ or anyone else _ his leader.

"I think I'm still pretty much evaluating everything," Ritter said, adding that he likely won't make a commitment until he's finished with his scheduled official visits. "It's a really tough decision for me. I really don't know who's out front right now. I'm hoping to figure that out pretty soon."

Ritter has been to Ole Miss many times, including several trips to Oxford for games this fall and Friday's trip to visit Nutt. So his official visit to Ole Miss will be spent looking for something a bit more intangible.

"On that visit, I'm just looking to see how I connect with the coaches and connect with the players and where I'm most comfortable," Ritter said. "I'll just see where God leads me."

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