Riddick and Teammates Look To Bounce Back

As the seconds ticked off the clock at Rutgers Stadium, sealing Immaculata's fate in the New Jersey Non-Public Group 3 state championship game, Theo Riddick and his teammates felt something they hadn't had to deal with in 23 contests.

A loss.

Holy Spirit defeated state power Immaculata, 26-13.

"I think it shocked basically everyone," Theo Riddick stated. "We took it differently. It was kind of new to us. It was our first time facing adversity. I think it changed a lot of our guys mindsets, that everything isn't going to come easy. As much as I hate to say this, I think it was a good thing that it happened, and it's making us work harder to get another championship."

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Riddick has been working so hard preparing for next season and finals, he didn't see that four-star offensive lineman Alex Bullard committed to Notre Dame late last week.

"At first, I said that the Notre Dame defense is stacking up in this class with all the guys committing. I'm thinking you got me and Jake Golic and Cierre (Wood), and I'm thinking come on, can we get another one? Now that we got another offensive player, that gives us another star."

Riddick has certainly been a star in his own right.

Despite missing close to three games with an ankle injury last fall, Riddick used his 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash to rush for 1,192 yards and 13 touchdowns, earning first-team all-conference and third team all-state honors. As a sophomore, Riddick had 172 carries for 1,352 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also picked off five passes from his free safety position.

In the process, the four-star Riddick racked up scholarship offers from Penn State, Boston College, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Northwestern. An April visit to Notre Dame put the final stamp on Riddick's verbal commitment to the Irish. He gave his pledge to head coach Charlie Weis shortly there after.

"Usually when people verbal, other people, they kind of get the sense two weeks later they don't want to go there anymore," Riddick explained. "I feel totally comfortable as if I'm going to do it tomorrow, and that's never going to change. I have no interest in other schools, and I'm very content."

Riddick hasn't heard from other programs since committing to Notre Dame, but there has been some local haters.

"You know, people say I'm overrated, undersized," Riddick began. "People have their own opinions, and they're saying I should've went there and elsewhere, but I feel comfortable at Notre Dame and Notre Dame feels comfortable with me. I have no shame in my pick, and I'm very excited to be honest with you.

"People ask you what you're going there for, and you say running back, and they're saying you're going to do this. I say I'm going to do whatever I can to get on the field the fastest, and whatever I can do to help the team win a championship. That's what I'm going to do."

And while some people think Riddick projects better as a defensive back on the next level, Notre Dame has never broached the subject with him.

"Basically, it's strictly just running back," Riddick said. "But basically, I'm going to do what I can to get on the field the fastest. If that's playing defense, I'll do that. Basically, I'm a team player. Wherever the coaches think I can play at, that's where I'll go."

Riddick's ankle limited him to pretty much just offense this past season. In hopes of helping Immaculata win another state championship, he plans on playing a lot of defense this coming fall.

"It should be a great season," Riddick said. He is trying to make it back to Notre Dame's campus for camp on the 29th of this month, but at the moment he isn't sure if that's possible. "I think we should go back to the championship game. A lot of the guys have been working hard for the last three years. We've gone 23-1. We lost last year in the championship game. I think we can redeem ourselves."

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