Riggs a Big Part of Special Freshman Class

Youth has been served to a great extent for the Florida Gators in 2010. Freshmen have played in every position group on the roster and the defense in particular has a two deep that is littered chock full of the young guys. Cody Riggs may not have been expected to play much in 2010, but the talented cornerback from Ft. Lauderdale has been a big plus for Florida in his first season on campus.

Florida had an opening at cornerback this season. There were open tryouts in the spring and sophomore Jeremy Brown who never took a college snap before was named the starter when the Gators opened the season.

Outside of All-American junior Janoris Jenkins, there was little doubt freshmen were going to be involved at the position. Senior Moses Jenkins was hurt early and behind the three already mentioned were just three true freshmen in Cody Riggs, Jaylen Watkins, and Joshua Shaw. Shaw and Watkins were on campus in the spring to get a feel for the defense and try and get in the rotation. Riggs was automatically behind because he didn't show up on campus.

"When I came in I wanted to play early, but I also knew I was going to have to work extremely hard because I was the last corner to come in," Riggs said this week. "I figured it would be a lot harder to play…I have worked hard and it paid off."

One aspect of his game that has showed up is the ability to hit hard. Looking at his build, it is a bit surprising to see a guy (5-9, 175) that continually hits as hard as Riggs. He said that trait was something he learned in high school.

"I developed that from my sophomore year in high school, before that I was playing running back and more of a finesse guy and when I played cornerback I was just trying to get interceptions," he said. "When I got to my senior year, I had a knack for hitting people and got real aggressive and that is my playing style now."

Riggs is part of a freshman recruiting class that has really been playing a lot lately. On defense alone, defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley have played good minutes in the last few games. They are joined by linebacker Ronald Powell, safety Matt Elam, and corners Riggs and Watkins. Recruiting class mate Trey burton is the second leading rusher and second leading receiver on the Gator team right now. It was a class with a lot of accolades that is earning its stripes right now.

"We all came in and were a close group," Riggs said of Scout.com's No. 1 rated recruiting class. "A lot of us played in the All-American games together. For us to all be on the field it is real special…for me to look over here and see Jaylen Watkins by my side, Matt Elam at safety, and Ronald Powell sitting right there. It means a lot to be on the field with guys that I read about and got real close with coming up and going through camp together."

What this class does down the road has a chance to be special, but Riggs said there is no time to think about that right now.

"It looks like we have a bright future, but we aren't worried about that," he said. "We have Florida State this week. We aren't looking toward next year."

Riggs learned a lot about enjoying each moment of his college experience last weekend during senior day festivities. When the seniors were announced, a few of them let their emotions go and tears couldn't be stopped from rolling down their face. It was something Riggs took to heart that he didn't notice a year earlier when he was on his official visit to Florida for senior night and the Florida State game.

"I came to the Florida State game and I didn't think too much of it," he said. "Today when I saw Ahmad Black and how emotional he was, I thought, 'WOW! It really does go by fast.' I remember playing Ahmad in the state championship game as a freshman and it really does go by fast." And Black is someone he hopes to emulate his college career after.

"Ahmad Black is the most exciting guy to watch on defense," Riggs said. "When you watch him you get inspired… you can help yourself by watching him do what he does."

Some won't be surprised if the class of 2014 is saying the same about Riggs.
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