Ridgeland's Bridges commits to Presbyterian
ROSSVILLE, Ga. (WRCB) -- Darrell Bridges held his own, and in some ways, even overshadowed his highly-recruited teammate Vonn Bell in the final month of the 2012 high school football season.
But monster numbers and Ridgeland's remarkable run to the state championship game did little to raise the senior running back's recruiting stock.
Bridges confirmed Wednesday he has verbally committed to Presbyterian, a Football Championship Subdivision school that he said provided his only Division I scholarship offer.
"He's the biggest recruiting mystery I've seen as a head coach," Ridgeland head coach Mark Mariakis told Channel 3 before the Class AAAA state championship game in December. "He's a great kid and a powerful runner with game-breaking ability, but he's just now starting to show up on the radar for some schools.
"I think somebody is going to get a steal."
It appears that "somebody" is the Blue Hose, who have recruited the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder from the start and offered him during the season.
After moving from quarterback to running back as a junior, Bridges racked up more than 2,300 yards rushing and 40 touchdowns as a senior last fall. He rushed for more than 150 yards in each of Ridgeland's four playoff games leading up to the state final, and scored a touchdown in all five.
Bridges has long received recruiting interest from several non-Division I programs like Carson-Newman, Shorter and Cumberland, but he was hoping for more options on the higher levels.
Scouts from Memphis, Vanderbilt, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech made contact late in the season, and he also received plenty of interest from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, yet he still stands with the lone Division I offer with two weeks left until national signing day.
"This one really blows my mind more teams are not on him," 247sports recruiting analyst Rusty Mansell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this month. "I have had multiple coaches call me that have played Ridgeland and asked why he is not getting heavily recruited. I have seen him play two times in person and he is physical RB.
"He is a 6-foot, 200 pound prospect that is getting some attention from schools such as Vanderbilt, UTC and others. Schools looking for somebody that get those tough yards and having enough speed to hit the crease, Bridges is a big time prospect."
Bridges will sign scholarship papers alongside his friend and teammate, Bell, on February 6. Bell will choose between Ohio State, Alabama and Tennessee in a nationally-televised announcement.