Derick E. Hingle - USA Today Sports

LSU linebacker Duke Riley playing for fellow Louisiana native Ed Orgeron

LSU linebacker Duke Riley has waited his turn to start and now is looking to finish his senior season strong for fellow Louisiana native, Ed Orgeron, to try to earn him the head coaching job.

Riley's time is now and the senior is playing for LSU, Orgeron

It's been a long road to earn his starting spot from his days at John Curtis (La.), but senior linebacker Duke Riley has been a huge part of LSU's success on defense. After two great games against Ole Miss and Alabama for the Buras native, he said his family and staying patient was what helped him get to this point.

"It was hard for me at some moments, but I have my family pushing me to maintain my humbleness. I just knew my time would come and do great things," Riley said. "Never being complacent with Kwon and Deion and just learning from guys like that and watching them what they do on the field and off the field. I was young and I wanted to be like them."

Former LSU linebacker and current Atlanta Falcon Deion Jones is who many compare Riley's wait to. Riley doesn't shy away from that at all. "Everybody asked me before the season if I wanted to be like Deion Jones. Of course I wanted to be like Deion Jones. Look at the things he did here and doing now. Who wouldn't want to make plays like he is. No off the field issues and handling everything the right way," Riley said. "He had to wait and just being a leader off the field in workouts or telling people to go to class or getting people ready to go to practice. Just fighting."

Defensive lineman Frank Herron has seen Riley rise to his starting spot in the middle next to Kendell Beckwith. Herron said that he's not surprised by Riley's recent play, which included an interception against Ole Miss and his stops against Alabama including a goal line stand.

"Duke Riley is a helluva player. Comes with energy everyday. Him and Kendell are probably the two best linebackers in the SEC right now. When they come free and make a play. They're always ready to hit someone in the hole."

Before his sophomore year, Riley got his tattoo that says Bayou Bengal and the Eye of the Tiger and the tattoos represent his love for LSU and Louisiana.

"That's one of my favorite tattoos, Bayou Bengal and Eye of the Tiger, because I live this. I bleed purple and gold and it's because I knew my time would come. I wasn't ever going to leave. I just had to just step up to the plate and remain humble and be thankful for my opportunity."

Fellow Louisiana native Ed Orgeron made a comment on Monday that Alabama offensive tackle and former West Monroe standout Cam Robinson should be at LSU. Riley said that many things can take recruits elsewhere outside of Louisiana, but that was never an option for him.

"If you're growing up in Louisiana and a kid growing up in Louisiana, I don't see how you don't want to be at Louisiana State University," Riley said. "Some people want to get away I guess. There was no way I was leaving Louisiana."

Orgeron is now fighting to earn the full-time job as LSU's head football coach and Riley supports Orgeron because of what he's done for the current players and what Orgeron could do as the full-time coach of the Tigers in the future. 

"I told Coach O, I'm going to do everything in my will power to keep everybody here straight and keep everyone on track because we all love Coach O. I know what he can do for this program in the future and these next three games. I just know what he can do for Louisiana. A Louisiana native, I know how much he cares about us and our program," Riley said. "You have to have fire playing for Coach O. If we don't match his, something is wrong. He's just different. He's what you need as a player. Make you love the game and have energy."

While Herron isn't a Louisiana native, the Memphis, Tenn. native said he's supporting Orgeron as well because of how close the team has been brought together by Orgeron.

"I think he's brought a lot of energy. He's a Louisiana guy. He's always been team first. Like he said, one team, one heartbeat and we got three more games to finish the season the strong," Herron said.

Herron said he felt like the team needed his forced fumble against Alabama and he's got to take his game to the next level down the stretch as well as the rest of the defense.

"We played three quarters good, but it wasn't good enough. We held them as long as we could. We just got to execute and be focused for this week and have a great preparation," Herron said. "I trust coach Dave to have a great gameplan. We got to learn from coach Pete and coach O when he comes over there and help us. We'll have a lot more energy. I feel like we have a good chance to make something happen." 

As far as getting ready for Arkansas, Riley said that it's different under Orgeron and he doesn't expect the same dropoff like other teams have experienced because of what Orgeron demands from his players.

"I guess guys in the past, people just don't come out ready to play. It's a different atmosphere here. Coach O is just bringing that fire to us. It doesn't matter who we're playing. We're going to be ready to play regardless," Riley said. "This year, the fire for every game is just different."

Riley talks senior season, prepping for Arkansas

Practice Notes:

  • LSU had a few players practicing in gold non-contact jerseys: DB Kevin Toliver, FB JD Moore and OT KJ Malone. None are expected to miss to Arkansas game as of now.
  • Offensive lineman Donavaughn Campbell returned to practice today. Campbell was arrested in Atlanta on battery charges while visiting his brother at Georgia Tech.
  • Jazz Ferguson remains suspended indefinitely from the team. 
  • Defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence impressed in 1-on-1 drills with offensive lineman, matching up against Chidi Okeke and Will Clapp. Lawrence seemed to control both lineman in any way he wanted in the drill. In a 2-on-1 drill, Lawrence shed the block and filled his gap where a would-be runner would be potentially.
  • Tight end DeSean Smith, who said recently that he credits Steven Ensminger for helping develop him as a blocker, locked up with Arden Key and did a nice job on the quick edge rusher for the Tigers.

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