football Edit

Zoom Interview: CB Philip Riley On Picking Notre Dame Over Virginia Tech

A year and a half before committing to Notre Dame, Philip Riley made a cross-country move. He and his family trekked from the state of Washington down to Florida in December 2018.

“It was a great move football-wise and family-wise,” Riley told BlueandGold.com during a Zoom interview. “We moved down here because my stepdad has family in Alabama and Georgia, and my mom has family in Florida.

“They thought it’d be a great move to get by family, and for me football-wise, too, because football here is great.”

After his junior season at Valrico (Fla.) Bloomingdale High, Riley’s recruiting process exploded and totaled right around 40 scholarship offers. The week-in, week-out top competition in the Sunshine State helped him grow as a player.

“Washington definitely has some talent; Florida has more talent,” Riley explained. “In Washington, you’d face a good team one week and then face an average team the next couple weeks. In Florida, you play a great team every week and always have to be on your toes.”

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Riley’s first Power Five offer came from Maryland Jan. 21 and by the end of April, his recruitment skyrocketed. He added offers the likes of Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Oregon, Penn State, Texas, USC and Washington.

“I didn’t expect it to blow up the way it did,” Riley said. “I went from like three offers to 40 in a month or two. It was a blessing but definitely a surprise.”

In April, some pundits believed that Riley was on the verge of committing to Virginia Tech. Riley admits that was the case too.

How was Notre Dame able to turn the tide of his recruiting process?

“I was leaning towards Virginia Tech at the time, but I sat down, prayed and talked to my family about [my recruitment],” Riley explained. “I did more research and talked to the [Notre Dame] coaches. Notre Dame is a special school academically and football-wise. You get a better combination of the two.

“That’s really how it happened. I went on a virtual tour, talked to a bunch of students at the school, talked to the coaches, talked to my parents and really thought about it. That’s how I chose Notre Dame.

“Not every degree is the same. Getting a degree from Notre Dame is a lifetime opportunity. Their academics is really the No. 1 thing that [stood out] to me. When I was on meetings with Coach Lea, Coach Mickens and Coach Kelly, they showed me their flaws — what they can improve on and how they’re going to improve it. That really stood out to me because not a lot of programs will do that — it’s more fluff. I know Notre Dame was 100 percent true, backed up by facts. No fluff there.”

Riley was diligent in learning as much as he could about Notre Dame from as many different sources as possible, which included him reaching out to a few students.

“I went on Instagram under Notre Dame’s profile and a bunch of students popped up,” Riley recalled. “I hit them up, got to know them, asked them a few questions. You really can’t get that perspective from a coach or a player about how everyday life at Notre Dame is. It was great getting their reasons on why they picked Notre Dame as a student.

“They gave me some reasons they did choose Notre Dame and some things they think the school can improve on. It was a great perspective to get.”

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Riley made his pledge to the Irish May 5, and the past few weeks of the committed life have been treating him well.

“It’s great,” he said. “I have a lot more free time — with my family and to myself. I’m communicating with the coaching staff still and talking to recruits.”

It didn’t take Riley long to start recruiting other prospects to join him at Notre Dame after he committed. He and Ryan Barnes had already formed a strong relationship earlier this year, and the Maryland cornerback committed to Notre Dame last week.

Riley is also after prospects such as Tennessee linebacker Prince Kollie and Michigan wide receiver Andrel Anthony.

He’s also been able to build a strong connection with his future teammates.

“Great group of guys, all like-minded,” he said of Notre Dame’s 2021 commits. “We’re all friends, building that brotherhood so when we do go up to Notre Dame, we can connect just like that. It’s going really well.”

Rivals ranks Riley as the No. 40 prospect in the Sunshine State and the No. 20 cornerback nationally.

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