FOXBORO - Stevan Ridley introduced himself to the New England football faithful this summer, tearing it up against Jacksonville and Tampa in a pair of preseason games.
"A couple hours after the Tampa game, I get a text from Stevan that read: 'It all started at The Pit,'" said David King, coach of the Trinity Day Episcopal School football team in Natchez, Miss. "That's our home field. For Stevan — a big-time athlete like that — to go out of his way and send that message. I think that shows what kind of person you've got there.
"I don't know too many NFL players who would do something like that. We don't get too many of them here. But I can assure you that Stevan is special."
Ridley, 22, has burst on to the scene as the present and future of what could be a dominant New England running game.
So far, he's pounding out 8.2 yards per carry. And last week in Oakland, the third-round pick out of Louisiana State dropped 97 yards on his 10 carries, including a jaw-dropping 33-yard TD that left Pats' fans lusting for more.
"He's got a lot of good elements to his style. He's got some quickness, he's got good vision, he's got some strength, can run through tackles. He's got a combination of skills," said Pats coach Bill Belichick. "He showed a burst there last week against Oakland when he got through the line of scrimmage."
King, for one, is not surprised by anything Ridley does. The former "Saint" - who led his team to the 2006 Division 1A state championship by rushing for 337 yards in the title game - has made a career of silencing doubters.
At Trinity, he graduated in a class of about 20 students, playing football in the smallest division in the state, with just 15 players on the team.