DURHAM, N.C. --- A pair of schools have offered Jordan Riley, a 2017 defensive lineman. Although North Carolina isn’t one of them, the staff has shown a lot of interest in the 6-foot-4, 285-pounder, whose focus was basketball up until a year ago.
“He’s a very talented player, but very inexperienced,” Riverside head coach Chris Howell said. “Last year was his first year ever playing football – he’s normally been a basketball player… He’s instinctually finding his way. Never playing football, he’s had to get used to the physicality of the game. With his basketball background, he plays in space really well, which gives you a good indication on how good his feet are [and] how good his athletic ability is.”
After being solely focusing on basketball since he was seven years old, Riley decided to give football a try about a year ago.
“Just watching it on TV and seeing how the NFL interacts and how much fun they were having, it was just something different – it was something new. I just thought if basketball didn’t work out for me, football would be a good second choice.”
Despite the lack of experience, Riley became Riverside’s starting weak-side end.
“We dropped him into coverage because he’s used to playing in space with basketball,” Howell said. “He had two interceptions.”
Before he ever played a down of high school ball, Riley received his first scholarship offer. A day after camping at NC State last summer, the Wolfpack extended an offer.
“That really opened my eyes,” Riley said. “I really dominated the camp. The head coach pulled me aside and said, ‘I really like your size. I really want you to send your transcripts over.’ The day after that they called Coach [Howell] and they offered. I realized I could really go far with football.”
Old Dominion has since offered Riley.
“Every school in the United States has probably inquired about him,” Howell said.
Also last summer, Riley camped at North Carolina.
“They liked my size, but said I need to work on staying low – stop coming so high,” Riley said.
Larry Porter, who recruits Durham for UNC, has been in constant contact with Howell. Porter invited Riley to the Tar Heels’ final junior day in late March, but he chose to attend the Nike Opening Regional in Atlanta instead.
“[UNC is showing] a very high interest,” Howell said. “They love everything they see about Jordan. I just think they want to get a complete idea of his grades – they want to fully recruit the kid and they just don’t want to rush into anything. They just don’t want to offer a kid to offer a kid.”
Last fall, Riley visited UNC for its regular season finale against NC State. He has also visited Florida State. He’s in the process of scheduling trips to Florida State, UNC, and NC State.
Two schools have emerged as early favorites for Riley.
“Of course, [I like] NC State, because they were the first to offer me,” Riley said. “But I really like Florida State, because I have a really good relationship with the coaches. Coach [Brad] Lawing, he came from Florida, I just love how he teaches the game, how he breaks down the defense.”
Howell could see Riley playing either defensive end or tackle in college, but would lean towards strong-side end because of Riley’s athleticism.
Riley continues to play AAU and high school basketball. As a sophomore, he averaged a double-double for Riverside… Riverside grew up a UNC basketball fan and said his family is “diehard” Tar Heel fans.
2017 Target: Jordan Riley
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