While walking the halls at Fuquay just days after being named head coach, he encountered Sam Jones and knew he had a player that would attract major college attention.
"Even back then I knew I had something special [in Sam]," Riggs said. "I knew he would be one that a lot of schools would be coming after, and that was as a ninth grader."
Although he didn't know Jones had committed to NC State last night, coach Riggs knew he was leaning towards the Wolfpack and wasn't surprised when he heard the news.
|"Even back then I knew I had something special in Sam."|
"I didn't know he had committed, but I know he was leaning heavily in that direction," said Riggs. "I've been talking with Sam and his dad, and I know that was the place he was leaning to because he felt comfortable there on his visits.
"I wasn't too involved with his recruitment because I tend to let the families do that, and I will be there for advice if they need it. He knows who all was really after him and had offered, but I know for a fact that State, [North] Carolina, and East Carolina were in there after him hard. They wanted him bad, I do know that.
"A lot of schools were on him. I think the couple of visits that he had at State probably impressed him enough. With it being close to home, I think that played a part."
Jones burst on the scene this spring as a standout on the combine circuit. Checking in at 6-foot-5 and 265-pounds, he worked exclusively at defensive end and dominated blockers at the invite-only Shrine Bowl combine as he was arguably the most impressive defensive lineman in attendance.
What might be most surprising about that is Jones is relatively inexperienced at the position. After playing along the defensive line as a sophomore, he mainly played offensive tackle for the Bengals during his junior season, helping lead the team to the 2005 Tri-7 title.
"He played offensive tackle for us," Riggs said. "He started the season playing both ways but after an injury he missed a couple of games and just played offense the rest of the way. We're going to be using him on both sides of the ball this season."
|"In a couple of years you are going to have a man on your hands."|
With his outstanding frame and natural athletic ability, Jones is a jumbo athlete that can project at several different positions on the next level. At his current size he could stay at defensive end, or with added weight he could play offensive guard, offensive tackle, or defensive tackle. Because Jones is so young, coach Riggs believes that his best days are ahead of him as his body continues to mature.
"I think Sam would project as an offensive tackle, but that's just my opinion and depends on how his body fills out," Riggs said. "He's being recruited by all the schools as a lineman.
"He's only 16 years old. He won't be 17 until October. I think he's got that going for him. Physically he's coming into his own, and I think he's maturing also mentally as he gets older.
"I think again, the fact is you get a guy like that and if you redshirt him, not that they would do that but it would make sense to me, in a couple of years you are going to have a man on your hands. There's no telling how big he is going to get."
Jones has a little work to do in the classroom, as most juniors in high school do, but coach Riggs feels that his star player will do what it takes to make it academically.
"The next year is going to be important for him," said Riggs. "That's another area that I think he's maturing. I think he's been blessed with the ability that he has, and he sees what he may be able to get done. I think he's buckling down and will improve as far as that's concerned."
Jones committed to the Wolfpack over scholarship offers from East Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina while receiving heavy interest from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Penn State, Clemson and Auburn among others.
When he committed, Jones stated that his recruiting is finished.
"I'm done with recruiting," Jones told Pack Pride. "All I want to do is focus on my academics and make sure I do what I've got to do there. I'm set on the Wolfpack."