Texas junior DT Hassan Ridgeway has elected to forego his senior season and enter the 2016 NFL Draft, he announced Saturday.
"I just discussed it with my parents and my family, seeing what was best for me, and right now, I think it's best to come out this year," Ridgeway said. "My teammates and coaches mean a lot to me. Everything that's happened at UT has helped me, that includes my teammates and coaches, and everything they've done has helped me to get to this point."
An honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2015, Ridgeway played in 36 career games with 18 starts. In that time, he recorded 92 tackles with 9.5 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries.
"Hassan is a really talented young player whose best years are ahead of him," head coach Charlie Strong said. "We appreciate everything he's done for Texas, and though we're disappointed to lose him, we will continue to support him any way we can. We wish Hassan the best."
"Coach Strong has always had a lot of faith in me and my ability, and he's always pushed me," Ridgeway said. "It's been a great help, both him and the coaching staff – coach (Brick) Haley, coach (Vance) Bedford – they've really pushed me and helped me become a better player and person. That's not saying I can't still get better, but they've pushed me farther than I thought was possible."
This past season, Ridgeway played in 11 games, starting the last eight he played in before missing the Baylor game due to injury. He posted 36 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and led the team with two fumble recoveries. Twice he registered six tackles in a game, including against Oklahoma State, when he added one sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, one pressure and a 34-yard fumble recovery return for a touchdown.
"My career as a Longhorn has been very important to me, and I really appreciate coach (Mack) Brown for giving me that opportunity," Ridgeway said. "I spent four years there and wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't gone to UT. I wouldn't change that for anything. I feel like it shaped me into the person I am, and I can be happy for that. I'm going to be a Longhorn until the day I die. There's no changing that."
As a sophomore, Ridegway played in all 13 games and started the last 10. He finished second on the team in sacks (six) and fourth in tackles for loss (11), while totaling 43 tackles. He played in 12 games as a redshirt freshman.