Talented defensive end Jabrian Niles is hoping to be the next household name in the college football world after he committed to the Auburn Tigers on Tuesday after returning from camps at Auburn and Mississippi State. Riley said Auburn is getting not only a great player, but also a great person in Niles.
"The first thing you notice about him is that he's just a bright-eyed kid with a quick smile," Riley tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "He's very polite. He has represented our program very well. We expect him to continue to do that. He'll represent Davidson very well at Auburn and he'll represent Auburn well. He's that kind of young man.
"He's the first kid we've ever had to be offered by Southern Cal," he adds. "He took that to mean he needed to do a better job of leading in the weight room and if he was the "best player on the team" he needed to act like it. Where some kids get caught up in the process he actually got better because of the process. That's just the kind of kid he is."
At 6-2, 262 with very good quickness off the ball and with the ability to make plays anywhere on the field, Niles is a player with plenty of upside according to Riley.
"He's a kid who started as a 6-2, 205-pound quarterback in the ninth grade," Riley says. "He still actually takes some snaps at quarterback for us as our third guy just to make sure he knows what's going on. He was our freshman quarterback and our JV quarterback and halfway through his sophomore year he had this big growth spurt. He was getting so much bigger we started using him on the defensive line just to rush the passer.
"He played in the state semi-final game that year against Prattville as a 10th-grader," he adds. "He just kept growing. He played last year at 240 and now he's 262. He may be a 6-3, 290-pound kid who plays inside someday. You just don't know where that is going to end. He's very athletic."
A very similar athlete to former Auburn standout and current Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Sen'Derrick Marks, Niles has the ability to disrupt things up front and Riley says it's almost like watching a power forward in action on the field.
"I think he came on the radar two springs ago when we played Hoover and he knocked down four passes," Riley said. "He just has that ability like a basketball guy that has shot blocking ability. He just has a great timing and athletic ability to bat balls down at the line of scrimmage. He's done that often. I feel certain he'll do that at the next level as well."