Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 38 of 47 JUNE/JULY 2020 39 Valrico (Fla.) Bloomingdale class of 2021 cornerback Philip Riley was clearly enthused during a phone in- terview with Blue & Gold Illustrated. He had just committed to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and couldn't contain his excitement. "I love Notre Dame!" he exclaimed. "I know that's the place for me. I'm very excited!" Riley announced his choice May 5, but he came to his decision a few days prior. In April, some pundits believed Riley — a 6-0, 190-pound Rivals four- star prospect — would commit to Virginia Tech. But the Irish, led by cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens, defensive coordinator Clark Lea and head coach Brian Kelly, surged in his recruitment and locked him up. "They gave me a different perspec- tive on everything," Riley said of the Notre Dame coaching staff. "They really pushed hard for me. I feel like Notre Dame is a perfect fit for me socially, academically and football- wise." What Notre Dame offers off the field was the tipping point during Riley's recruiting process. "Of course the academics," he said. "Not everyone can go to Notre Dame. I believe just 18 percent of people who apply there get accepted. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "Everything they said was factual. I double-checked what they said and researched a lot. With some of these other programs, there's a lot of fluff. It was relieving to know that every- thing they were saying was true." Riley is eagerly anticipating a visit to Notre Dame someday. It's rare that the Fighting Irish accept a commitment from a prospect who hasn't stepped on campus yet, but the coaching staff has adapted dur- ing these unprecedented times due to the coronavirus pandemic. Notre Dame did its research on Ri- ley to make sure he would be a good fit, and the recruit did his due dili- gence likewise. "You really don't commit to the place just because of the campus; you commit for the people, academics and football," Riley said. "I was fine committing without visiting the cam- pus. I know I'm going to love it; it's a historical place. "It was comforting to know that I'm going to be in a stable situation with a great coaching staff and great academics." Riley built a very strong relation- ship with Mickens, who offered him just five weeks before the prospect made his commitment. And at the time Mickens offered Riley, he had been on the job at Notre Dame for only three weeks. "We've built a really unique rela- tionship on a personal level," Riley explained. "We talk every day, and he always asks me how my day is going and how my family is doing — and I ask him the same. "We'll talk about football, tech- nique — it's just a great relationship that I'm blessed to have." The presentation Riley received from his future defensive coordina- tor helped Notre Dame's cause in landing him as well. "When [Lea] gave me a presenta- tion on how he runs his defense, the first thing he showed me was mis- takes that were made or flaws that they have," Riley recalled. "He also showed me how they were going to fix it. Some of these other programs will only speak about their accom- plishments and victories that they've had, but they don't go in-depth about what their mistakes were and how they were going to fix them. "Coach Lea made sure that I know he's fixing the flaws and getting his defense [better] every day." Considering that Riley hasn't been to Notre Dame before, other pro- grams may come after him hard. Af- ter all, there's the possibility that he could visit South Bend and not like the school. But Riley insists he's solid with the Fighting Irish. "I'm going to thank [other schools that reach out] for the opportunity and for recruiting me, but I'm 100 percent locked in with Notre Dame," Riley said. "I'm ride or die with Notre Dame; I'm not going to change that." Riley moved from the state of Washington down to the Tampa, Fla., area in December 2018. His stepfa- ther retired from the military, and Riley's family decided to move down to the Sunshine State and be closer to family. He committed to the Fighting Irish over Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Oregon, Penn State, Texas, USC, Vir- ginia Tech and others. — Mike Singer RECRUIT ANALYSIS "[Philip] Riley has solid length; that really stands out about him. He plays faster than he is because his arms are so long. We had him ranked as a high three-star and wanted to see him up against top competition. We moved him up after the Rivals Camp in Orlando in February. It was nice to see him go against those elite Power Five guys, and he came out ahead more than he came out behind. "He's more of a raw athlete than a corner- back, but as he gets better in his drops, he's going to become more well rounded. Notre Dame has a ball of clay and can mold him how they want. I think he's a corner, not a safety, but he might have the size down the road to play safety. He could maybe play early on, but he'll thrive as a sophomore and junior." — Rivals Florida analyst Rob Cassidy COMMITMENT PROFILE PHILIP RILEY Fighting Irish Land Four-Star Cornerback From The Sunshine State Riley has never been to Notre Dame, but that didn't matter when it came to him making a deci- sion on a commitment. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM "They gave me a different perspective on everything. They really pushed hard for me. I feel like Notre Dame is a perfect fit for me socially, academically and football-wise." RILEY

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