Riggs Ready To Roll?

Vol tailback Gerald Riggs, Jr., assured us he was ready to live up to his billing last March. Then he injured his ankle and missed most of spring practice. Now he's back and, he says, ready to be the player fans projected him to become after a prep All-America career in Chattanooga.

Best known to date for his lack of discipline and lack of interest in attending class, Riggs says he has matured in recent months. Asked if this new attitude, coupled with a new running backs coach (Trooper Taylor), gives him a greater opportunity to start than he's had in years past, Riggs nodded emphatically. He will challenge Cedric Houston and Jabari Davis for playing time.

''Definitely,'' he said. ''Things seem to be working out. The past couple of years I did things in spurts. There was some question as to 'Am I going to be taking care of business when I'm not on the field?' and things like that. That's not a question the coaches have to worry about anymore, so I think I have a better chance of doing things than I have in the past years.''

If there really is a change in Riggs, it occurred sometime between the end of his sophomore season and now. Precisely when did the light come on for him?

''I really can't say when,'' he replied. ''It's just something everybody goes through. At a certain point, you just say, 'Hey, it's time to grow up a little bit. As much as we all want to stay kids, we have to grow up.''

Perhaps Riggs finally has grown up as a Vol. He looks lean and hungry. Reportedly, he has been one of the most dedicated players in UT's offseason conditioning program. Maybe a new Gerald Riggs, Jr., -- complete with a new attitude -- is about to be unveiled.

''I've been here two years, going on three years,'' he said. ''The time's flown by. It's hard to believe how much time has gone by. But I'm having fun being a football player.''


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