Practice Tour: Travis Riley

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. --- While the "big back" label might be applicable, it often leads to misconceptions about Travis Riley. The 5-foot-11, 208-pounder possesses elite speed and is capable of being a featured tailback.

"I think he's a power runner with speed," Brown head football coach Ron Massey said. "He'll get the tough yards and then he's able to [break] 60-, 70-yard [runs], too."

"I consider myself an ‘all-purpose' ‘back," Riley said. "I'm in the game on first down and fourth down. If I need to get 15 [yards], I'm going to try my best to get 15 even if that means trying to outrun somebody. If I have to get one yard and just lower my head, I'm going to do that."

North Carolina, the school Riley verbally committed to in early April, feels the same way.

"Coach [Ken] Browning said I remind him of a Shaun Draughn type that can do everything," Riley said. "When I went down there for camp, I think I kind of shocked them a little bit, because I ran a 4.45 [40-yard dash time]."

Prior to attending UNC's camp, Riley surprised many by running 40-yard dash times of 4.41 and 4.45 seconds at the Shrine Bowl Combine held at Eastern Alamance High School in Mebane, N.C.

Besides Browning, Riley communicates often with UNC assistants Troy Douglas, Allen Mogridge, and John Shoop. Riley speaks to Douglas, his primary recruiter, the most – typically once every two weeks.

Since he's an early graduate, Riley has already begun discussing official visit dates with the UNC coaches. He's currently eyeing the weekend the Tar Heels host Clemson.

Officially or unofficially, Riley plans to be in Kenan Stadium for every UNC home game this fall. He'll also attend the season opener against LSU in the Georgia Dome, since his father lives in Atlanta.

What Riley's travels won't include is other schools.

"Pretty much everybody stopped talking to me when I committed," Riley said. "A couple of schools came by and talked to me, but I pretty much shut them down."

In addition to the UNC coaches, Riley stays in touch with fellow Tar Heel commitments Eric Ebron, Brandon Ellerbe, Jarrod James, and T.J. Thorpe. He also doubles as a recruiter when communicating with Romar Morris.

"I want the recruiting class to be as good as it can be, no matter [if that means adding another] running back," Riley said. "Competition is good for everybody.

"I just tell [Morris] ‘You want to win games? Just look at the recruiting class we have coming in.' The coaching staff [and] everything about Chapel Hill, I just try to sell it to him. I hope he listens to me"

Specifically with the recruiting class, Riley points to the offensive line commitments, which includes five-star prospect Kiaro Holts and four-star linemen Jamar Lewter and Landon Turner.

"It's crazy," Riley said. "If you're a running back, that's exciting, because you know you'll have someone to open the holes up and run behind for four years. [I'll] hopefully get a couple 1,000-yard seasons with them big boys in front of me."

Every season Massey caters Brown's offense to his player personnel. With a backfield that includes Riley, Brown will rely heavily on its rushing attack this coming season.

"We're going to try to run the football," Massey said. "We'll probably be about 70-30 run-to-pass [ratio]. We're going to try to control the game [with the run]."

Since Brown will be incorporating some option into its offense and has several other talented players in its backfield, Massey isn't sure how often Riley will tote the football during the course of a game.

"He'll get enough carries – I can't predict [how many a game] right now," Massey said. "It will be determined by how the game goes and what the defense is doing."

But make no mistake about it – Riley is the featured back in the offense, which will often line up in either the I-formation, with Riley at tailback, or shotgun. He'll also be counted on in short-yardage situations.

"He's a tremendous running back – I don't know any other way to say it," Massey said. "He gives us a body that gets stronger as the game goes on, because he's so powerful."

Although he doesn't expect to be much of a receiving option, Riley will line up at slot receiver when Brown's offense is in its trips formation. Travis Riley Profile

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