It’s a phrase iterated by nearly every notable football player in their announcement to return to college as opposed to entering the NFL draft. All of those players dream of leading their team to a conference championship and a College Football Playoff berth while growing into a first-round talent. In most cases, though, it doesn’t end up working out that way.
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Back in 2020, Ridder helped lead the Bearcats to an undefeated regular season that ended in a crushing three-point loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound quarterback was a candidate to enter the 2021 NFL Draft, but he was viewed as a mid-round flier. He had the physical tools of an NFL quarterback, but lackluster production, accuracy issues, deep passing woes and struggles in the true dropback passing game left many thinking he wouldn’t develop into a quality starting quarterback in the NFL.
Ridder earned PFF passing grades of 75.4, 65.0 and 68.8 in his three years starting for the Bearcats before 2021. In 2020, he ranked in the 34th percentile in the FBS in deep passing grade, the 23rd percentile in uncatchable pass rate on 10-plus yard throws and the 18th percentile in true dropback passing grade.
The doubting of his pro potential and Cincinnati falling short of its ultimate goal — the College Football Playoff — led Ridder to return. In the middle of his video statement posted on the Bearcats’ Twitter account in January 2020, Ridder says the infamous words: Unfinished business.
He then proceeded to enjoy a massive year-over-year climb in PFF grade and led the Bearcats to a historic playoff berth in 2021. Just a year later from him saying those words, he is now viewed as a possible first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.