Dietrich Riley on his return to practice:
Q: here, with Dietrich Riley. So how did it feel to be back out here, kind of, full go for the first time in awhile?
DR: good first day. I was in shape, coming in. We got a great job of preparation in the offseason, Coach [Sal Alosi, Strength & Conditioning Coordinator] and his program. Did some great running over spring break so... I just have to break the habit of, you know, not being in contact, you know, scout team and stuff. Being in the red jersey. They're saying, "Stay away! Stay away from the pile!" So now, Coach, he's just really harping on me being involved in it. Getting an extra pop, going for the strip, but other than that, the first day… but we'll see what the tape says when we go in later on.
Q: yeah. Does it kind of change your technique a little bit when you do have to kind of avoid contact all the time? Like how you're going to go in on a guy.
DR: absolutely. Absolutely. Because you begin to slow down and not, you know, run and attack the runner. And at times today, I caught myself kind of lunging because I was slowing down too early but when you have running backs like Paul Perkins and Jordon James, if you get caught lunging, they'll make you look silly. Other than that, did pretty well.
Q: so this offseason… I mean, obviously it was an extended offseason for you. I mean, it's been, what, a year and a half basically since?
Q: so, I mean, how's this offseason working out? Do you feel physically ready?
DR: oh yeah, I'm ready. Because last offseason, I wasn't able to do any upper body, but I actually got a head start during the season. When I redshirted, that's when I was getting to do upper body stuff, do the push press, the bench press… Everything. So, you know, I'm ready. I'm ready to be in that box and just be physical and just bring a great presence to this defense.
Q: what do you think is going to be the biggest thing that you have to get back used to? Is it tackling? Or is it something else?
DR: tackling and just keep my head up. Breaking my old habits. You know, not going for the big hit every time. Just getting the runner down. Also working on my things and coverage-wise, especially in this defense. Can't give up the deep ball. Coach [says] if you can't play in the post and play multiple positions, you're not fit for the defense.
Q: how does it feel to know they have enough confidence in you? I mean, after you sat out for a year. You haven't played under these coaches and yet they have enough confidence in you to have you running with the 1's to start out the spring.
DR: it's a good start, but I can't get too complacent. There's still competition going around. So I just have to be consistent every day and just get better. And learn from my mistakes and just be consistent, even for the pads work. Everything's good but when you put the pads on, that's when you see where everything's about. You just have to keep your belly in every day.
Q: so where do they have you at? I mean, are they going to do strong safety specifically? Or are they going to do free safety? Which one are they planning on?
DR: I'm doing both.
DR: I'm going to have learn nickel as well. So I have to know everything in this defense. Corner. You never know. That's why in 1-on-1's, I've been working at corner. So I just want to be really versatile.
Q: obviously, for you guys, I mean, Tevin McDonald is, you know, off the team now. I mean, how does that feel for you guys? What are your thoughts on that?
DR: guys have to step up now. we're kind of, you know, sad that he made those decisions, but hey, you've got to move on. The future's bright. So you just have to continue to get better each and every day and guys just have to step up. That's what spring ball's all about: to see who's going to step in and make an impact.
Q: so, I mean, I think there are 8 guys of you in the secondary, ready for this spring..
DR: I think it's 6. Maybe 6 or 7, I don't know.
Q: maybe 6. Maybe 6. I mean, has Coach [Demetrice Martin, Passing Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs] challenged you guys to, you know… I mean, that's got to take a lot of conditioning, that's got to take a lot of, you know, "wind" to get through that with just 6 guys or 8 guys or whatever it is.
DR: yeah, he expects a lot out of us. That's why we have this offseason. Coach Alosi, he prepared us.
DR: So we should be go in there and take 1's and 2's and stuff. So, hey, we've got to accept the challenge.
Q: you sort of started to get acclimated toward the end of last year. You were doing a little bit of stuff in practice. Do you think that's kind of helping you now to kind of be back in the swing of things a little bit earlier?
DR: absolutely. Because it would've been… it actually boosted my confidence because last season, I was doing conditioning drills on the side. Coach Alosi and Coach Martin, he pulled me aside and said, "hey, you have to take every rep with the scout time and give our offense a great look because we don't have anybody else" and that actually gave me, you know, an advantage going against our offense, their tendencies, their concepts so, you know, when I go into the spring, I can just go "full go."
Q: sure. Are you excited for live? Are you feeling a little trepidation? Are you excited for pads?
DR: I'm excited. I'm excited. That's why I play this game. That's why I had the surgery. So I'm coming back so I want to be a part of this team, and we have great things to build on. And looking forward to getting in.
VIDEO: Riley on Return
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