Riley Ahead of Schedule

North Carolina verbal commitment Travis Riley, who suffered what was originally deemed a season-ending leg injury, could return to Kannapolis (N.C.) Brown's lineup as early as Oct. 29.

"I'm kind of ahead of schedule right now," Riley said.

During Brown's season opener, Riley, a 5-foot-11, 208-pound tailback, tore the MCL and the PCL and fractured the tibia in his right leg.

On Tuesday afternoon, Riley will visit UNC where he will meet with Dr. Tim Taft, the football team's senior orthopaedic surgeon.

"I've been running and cutting," Riley said. "My next step is to meet with Dr. Taft and see what he thinks about when I can come back and play. I feel like I can come back right now, but it's really up to him.

"Me, him, and my mom are going to discuss what the risk is – if there are any – with me coming back. If I'm cleared to play and I'm 100-percent, I'm going to get back out there. But if there's any serious risk, then I probably wouldn't come back."

Despite Riley's absence, Brown is 7-1 thus far this season.

"It's been hard watching and not being able to help them out," Riley said. "But they're holding it down."

Brown ends the regular season with back-to-back rivalry games – Concord (N.C.) Northwest Cabarrus and Concord (N.C.) High. Riley hopes to play in both games.

"Kannapolis versus Concord is the biggest rivalry in the state," Riley said. "It would be hard if I had to sit out for that one."

Riley credits Grady Hardeman, Brown's athletic trainer, with the acceleration of his recovery.

"Most high schools don't have a really good athletic trainer like we do," Riley said. "[Hardeman] used to be at Western Carolina… I've just been doing what he tells me to do."

Since the injury, Hardeman has been working with Riley twice a day during the week and once on Saturdays.

While in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, Riley, who plans to enroll at UNC in January, will also meet with Joe Haydon, Director of Football Operations. The two will go over admissions paperwork for Riley's early enrollment.

Riley attended UNC's season opener against LSU in Atlanta and every UNC home game this fall, with the exception of the Clemson game. The week of the Clemson game a teammate of Riley's was killed in a car accident and the funeral was held that Saturday.

"I really enjoy going to all the games and talking to all of the coaches," Riley said. "I talk to pretty much all of the coaches when I go up there. We talk about school and how my knee is doing – it's never really about football.

"I like talking with the other commits and the people we're trying to sway. Sometimes when I see somebody that I know we're going after, I tell them how much like a family Chapel Hill is – that's what I try to sell them on."

Unsurprisingly, Riley is impressed by UNC's four-game winning streak.

"Things have been going great and we've been playing really well," Riley said. "Johnny White has been amazing. Coach [Butch] Davis must have said something to turn the team around, because they've been playing like everyone expected them to play from the beginning of the season."

Riley plans to attend all of the remaining home games. His official visit is the weekend of Nov. 13, when UNC hosts Virginia Tech.

Travis Riley Profile

Inside Carolina Top Stories