The hero's name is Andrew Walters Ritter
Posted on: October 20,2013
Ole Miss Rebel Andrew Walters Ritter kicked that clutch 41-yard field goal to shock sixth-ranked LSU 27-24 Saturday night.
We’ll get to the field goal later, but first, about that middle name…
Andrew Ritter is named for his great grandfather, Carl Walters, the first sports writer inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame back in 1993.
Carl Walters died in March of 1990. Andrew Walters Ritter was born in April of 1991.
“I never knew my great grandfather, but I’ve heard so much about him all my life I feel like I knew him and knew him well,” Ritter said Sunday afternoon.
Ritter knows enough about his great grandfather to know that Carl would be tickled to life to know that his great grandson kicked a field goal that helped Ole Miss beat LSU.
I knew Carl Walters and I knew him well. He was one of my daddy’s best friends and like an uncle to me. I can assure you that if there is a press box in heaven, Carl and Ace (my dad) celebrated Andrew’s kick with Chivas Regal on the rocks, probably two or three.
“I know the history of Ole Miss football and I know my great grandfather recorded a lot of that history,” Andrew Ritter said. “That’s part of what makes what happened last night so cool.”
But there’s a lot more than that. Ritter, formerly a star at Jackson Academy, is a fifth year senior at Ole Miss. He has waited a long time to get the chance to be the field goal and extra point specialist for the Rebels. In fact, he elected to red-shirt last year, which normally would have been his senior season, to have this opportunity.
Judy Ritter, Carl Walter’s daughter and Andrew’s grandmother, watched on TV last night.
“The thing that struck me is when they showed Andrew on the sidelines before he went out to kick the field goal, he was smiling,” Judy Ritter said. “I think he was smiling because he knew he was about to get the chance to do something he has dreamed about doing all his life.”
“People tell me I was smiling, but to tell you the truth I don’t remember that,” he said. “If I was smiling it was because of just what my grandmother said. I’ve waited a long time and put in a lot of hard work to get the opportunity to do what I did last night.”
When he got the chance, he nailed it. Ritter’s kick went right down the middle and cleared the cross bar by plenty.
“I was nervous, really nervous, I can’t lie about that,” Ritter said. “There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of stress, but sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment. You have to relish the opportunity and I really did.”
Carl Walters, a smart man who dropped out of school in the ninth grade after both is parents had died, has plenty more reasons to be proud of his great grandson.
Andrew Ritter graduated with honors from Ole Miss last December with a degree in managerial finance. He will earn his MBA this semester.
“When Coach (Hugh) Freeze approached me about red-shirting last season, it was a no-brainer for me,” Ritter said. “It not only gave me a chance to be the placekicker but it also gave me the opportunity to get my Masters and that’s important.”
Carl Walters began writing sports after first working as a printer for the Laurel Leader Call. He put out the first sports section and thus became the state’s first sports editor at the Meridian Star in 1924. He later worked at the Tupelo Journal, the Jackson Daily News and the Jackson State Times, before finishing his career at The Clarion-Ledger with a 21-year stint beginning in 1956. His column “Shavins” was a fixture.
Carl Walters was often accused of favoring Ole Miss, but as he told me, “They were the team that was winning. It comes with the territory.”
Among the many wise choices Carl made at The Clarion-Ledger was to hire a young, talented sports writer named Orley Hood.
Saturday night, Orley and I watched Andrew Ritter kick the ball through the uprights to beat LSU. And we immediately toasted Andrew’s kick together: “Here’s to Carl.”
To support your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, click here.