Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2014

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

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BY DAN MURPHY I t didn't take long for Florida transfer Cody Riggs to feel at home in the Notre Dame locker room. One of the first conversations he had with fellow cornerback KeiV‑ arae Russell after arriving on campus as a graduate stu‑ dent this June was about postseason awards. Russell let Riggs know about his plans to win the 2014 Thorpe Award, given an‑ nually to the best defensive back in the country. Riggs' response: That's fine, but I'm trying to earn the Bednarik Award — referring to the trophy for the coun‑ try's best overall de‑ fensive player. "That's when I was like, OK, he w a n t s t o m a k e plays," Russell said. "He wants to come in blitzing and forc‑ ing fumbles. … He fits in perfectly with the way our defense is." With Russell now indefinitely sus‑ pended during the ongoing academic fraud investigation at Notre Dame, a smooth transition for Riggs on the field is essential for the Irish defense. His ath‑ leticism, experience and custom fit atti‑ tude in the revised scheme should make him the most valuable new addition to the roster this season. Riggs started 26 games during the last three seasons for the Florida Gators. He chose Florida over Notre Dame in the recruiting process despite some family ties to the Irish. His uncle, Bobby Brown, played wide re‑ ceiver at Notre D a m e ( 1 9 9 5 ‑ 9 9 ) and helped prepare Riggs for the transi‑ tion. T h e f o r m e r four‑star recruit played cornerback, safety and nickel in Gainesville. He decided to spend his final season of eligibility elsewhere for academic rea‑ sons, he said. In the spring, Notre Dame pictured him at the nickel position, a spot new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder plans to use more frequently this year. Riggs stood out early in training camp, though, and quickly climbed into a starting corner spot opposite Rus‑ sell. Now, it appears he'll be the team's top cornerback and the most experi‑ enced starter on the defense. "He's going to have to learn a lot be‑ cause he's going to have to play prob‑ ably a couple positions for us," head THE RIGHT FIT Fifth-year senior Cody Riggs may be exactly what Notre Dame needs during his one season in South Bend

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