One of the most-recurring qualities that employers look for is adaptability; in that case, Slippery Rock football senior wide receiver Andrew Bridgeforth already has an advantage over any competition he may face.
Bridgeforth was recruited from five hours away in Nazareth, PA in 2012 to play football for the Rock as receiver. Not only was he the star wide receiver for Nazareth high school, helping lead his team to the AAAA District 11 championship, he also claimed five District titles in track and field, and lettered in cross country two times as well.
Bridgeforth brought that flexibility to Rock football this year, and the ability to adapt and overcome stems from his selflessness.
“I want to make a play, for myself and my team to get them pumped up and help us win,” Bridgeforth said.
After sparsely playing in his first two seasons, Bridgeforth missed both the 2014 and 2015 seasons due to injury. When caught in a long period of stagnation due to any circumstance, many athletes opt for a change of scenery for help, but Bridgeforth was firm in his dedication to Slippery Rock.
“Circumstances and people around me, both off campus and on campus as well as my coaches [kept me here],” Bridgeforth said. “I considered going elsewhere, but I ended up coming back to here always.”
It was in his senior season that Bridgeforth found his true role for the Rock football team–coverage on the kickoff. While his statistics as a receiver were certainly nothing to roll your eyes at, as Bridgeforth hauled in 25 catches for 359 yards and two touchdowns on a team that included two all-PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) receivers, there was nothing quite like watching the 6’2″ receiver sprint down the field and maul the opposing returner almost every game this year.
“That started in my junior year. I wasn’t getting on the field a lot, so my coaches thought I should try out special teams,” Bridgeforth said. “To be honest, I was always afraid. I was never trying to hit. That first kickoff against Lock Haven and I made the tackle and I loved it. I got pumped.”
Bridgeforth finished with 13 special teams tackles on the season, tied for the most on the team and the most for the kickoff squad. While it is common for players to switch roles to fill special teams positions, nobody came close to Bridgeforth, who not only averaged 1.2 tackles a game and forced a fumble, but averaged 36 receiving yards per game as well, third-best on the team. It is that versatility that made him such an integral part of the Rock football squad this year.
“Bridgeforth is the most exciting guy to watch running down on kickoff,” Head coach Shawn Lutz said after a game this season.
For his future, the same as his present, Bridgeforth sees nothing but positivity and potential for whatever he may do after he graduates in December.
“I’m going to be working out for my pro day, trying to get in the best shape of my life,” Bridgeforth said. “If nothing comes from football, I got my degree and the sky is the limit.”
It is easy for an athlete to only focus on the on-field experiences after their time is done, but Bridgeforth will leave Slippery Rock with memories of both being a student and an athlete.
“My most fond memories came from this past season. I feel like I stepped into a leadership position and I had a lot more to do with the outcome of the games. A lot of the other guys made me feel like an older brother really,” Bridgeforth said. “It’s very scenic here in Slippery Rock and I love nature and being outdoors. I fell in love with the town.”