Just recently, Michael Ritter went on and on about how football has taught him an assortment of life lessons.
Amongst the most intriguing lessons about which Ritter has learned has learned is that education carries much greater weight than the sport he’s come to love.
How else to explain why Ritter, a former Memphis Ridgeway High and Kentucky Christian University football standout doesn’t shy about from the notion that while he’s lobbying for a career in the professional football ranks, he seems just as destined to fulfill his academic requirements now that his collegiate stint has concluded?
“My ambition right now is to get my degree,” Ritter told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I want that just as badly as I want football (a career). Football won’t last forever either way, but my education will. My ambition has always been and still is to better my situation. God puts people into movement, and I’ve always been moving towards better things for myself and my family.”
Credit college life coupled with Ritter’s valiant contributions during what was a stellar four-year tenure at Kentucky Christian as to why this 22-year-old has steadfastly adopted some newfound enthusiasm on his young life.
In helping KCU to a 5-6 mark this past season after the Knights had begun the campaign having won three of their first four outings, Ritter started each game at cornerback and held his own in what was a year that gave way to an array of off-the-field accolades.
So impressive was the 5-foot-8, 180 Ritter that his display for the Knights did not go unnoticed by Commonwealth League officials, who recognized Ritter for his dazzling efforts.
Besides being named All-Commonwealth for 2014 and being named a two-time Pre-Season All-American as well as garnering First-Team All-Conference honors, Ritter was amongst 10 KCU players to represent the school in the recent All Mid-South East Division game, in large part because he recorded two interceptions and 24 solo, 10 of which were assisted tackles along with 3.5 tackles for yardage loss.
Although Ritter contributed mightily for the Knights as a senior, he contends that wasn’t his best year.
“My most productive season was my sophomore year,” Ritter said. “That’s when I really came into my own and stepped up to the leadership role. My senior year was a lot of me just being a leader and kind of a coach on the field. I knew my abilities and the team and coaches trusted me to always be accountable and vocal.”
Said Greg Blue, KCU’s defensive coordinator: “Mike Ritter is the biggest reason why we were successful on the defensive side of the ball. His lockdown ability at the corner gave us as a defense to the ability to play an aggressive style of defense. Mike is the most coachable player I have ever coached. His ability to lead was exceptional. Players on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball respected Mike on and off the field. Mike is the ideal players coaches would love to have on their team.”
Now that his collegiate career has all but ended, Ritter boasts lofty aspirations of putting his immense skills and mechanics on display for a professional franchise.
In fact, he’d be to tell you the sky’s the limit, considering he has already proven to one who overcomes the biggest of obstacles for whom many dubbed an undersized cornerback.
“My senior year in high school wasn’t good,” Ritter explained. “I was going to camps and doing well. I got invited to a Vanderbilt camp and made it to the underclassmen Top 100. Unfortunately, I sustained an injury that sidelined me for most the season. So you know how that goes. Luckily, KCU had seen my potential and still gave me a chance.”
Which, fortunately for him, gave way to some newfound enthusiasm on his young life.
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Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.