The search for a corner to play opposite Rashard Fant may be over for the Hoosiers. True freshman A'shon Riggins got his first start in the loss at Ohio State and he showed why the IU coaching staff is so excited about his potential as a player.
Riggins found out a few days before the game that he was going to be starting, and the Hamilton, Ohio native said it meant a lot to make his first start back in his home state.
“Earlier in the week they told me I was with the ones,” he said. “I had to strap up everything and getting ready to roll. Our defense has been playing good so it was an honor to be a part of the ones. Being from Ohio it was a big honor to start this first game, especially since I was coming home and I got to show out in front of my home town.”
In the loss to the Buckeyes the Indiana freshman had three tackles to go along with a big pass break-up that prevented a touchdown, and he also recorded his first career interception. He said that on his interception he really wanted to get into the end zone but he just wasn’t able to make it.
“At first when I got the pick I was like I’ve got to house this,” Riggins said about his interception that he nearly returned for a TD. “The great players make it to the end zone, and I’m still just working on becoming great and getting better for myself and my team every day.”
The talented Hoosier said he had confidence in himself to play well because the coaches showed that they have confidence in him.
“I just focused in more than what I was, not being a starter, and I just went out there and did what I had to do to help the team become stronger and become better,” Riggins said. “There wasn’t a lot of pressure on me because my coach wouldn’t put me out there if he didn’t believe me, and knowing my coach believes in me gave me confidence in myself.”
Head coach Kevin Wilson said he was proud of the way Riggins played because he knows how tough it is to play at a place like Ohio State, especially when you are young, inexperienced player.
“Really good,” Wilson said when asked about the play of Riggins. “And not because he had a pick. Because he’s a true freshman and them (Ohio State) dudes are fast now and they keep coming at you. We’ve got two true freshman playing in the secondary and their first true…we played a road game down at Florida International with as many of our fans there. This was a true road game where you’ve got to communicate and be on the same page and you’re playing two true freshmen and you’re playing one of that offense. That is a testament to Tom (Allen) and a testament to kids buying and believing.”
Fellow cornerback Rashard Fant was also impressed with what he saw from Riggins in his first start for the Hoosiers.
“He played great,” Fant said about Riggins. “He got himself a pass break-up to start the game, and almost a pick six at the end. I’m not surprised. I have seen him since the first day he walked on campus. I knew he would be ready today, and playing back in his home state I knew it felt good for him to get that interception. He’s just going to keep getting better and better.”
Riggins said the Indiana defensive unit is a very confident group and that is because of the work the coaches do with them every day.
“Every day it is just growing stronger and stronger,” Riggins said about the confidence the defensive players have. “Our defense grows stronger and stronger every day getting smarter and smarter. Believing in ourselves comes with confidence and preparation. Preparation leads to confidence and we prepare every week as hard as we can. The coaches do a good job getting us prepared for each game each week and the confidence comes along with that.”
Riggins said the energy and the belief all the players on defense have is a direct result of the mentality that defensive coordinator Tom Allen has all the time.
“Big props to Coach Allen because he brings the juice every second of every day,” Riggins said. “A coach like that you can’t let down. You can’t let a coach like that down. With him bringing the juice every day we’ve got to bring the juice every day.”
Riggins said that he and the rest of the Indiana defense did everything they could to try and slow down what is an outstanding Ohio State offense.
“A lot of respect to Ohio State, they are a really good team,” he said. “Number two team and probably should be the number one team in the nation. We left everything we could out on the field as a defense. A good offense like that is hard to stop.”
Indiana CB A'Shon Riggins talks to the media after the loss at Ohio State: