It is that time of the year. Every day this month it seems, another Peach State prospect is emerging with major offers -- and that should come as no surprise. With the number of annual FBS-level signees out of the Peach State inching closer and closer to 200, college coaches are scouring film and highlights in search of the next big talent. This week, one such prospect has surfaced, and the SEC East is all over him.
Defensive end Antonio Riles (Lawrenceville, Ga./Archer) felt he did pretty well as a junior, but as a two-way player the 6-foot-4, 260-pound prospect was not satisfied with his performance on defense. So when his coach talked to him this month, he was surprised to hear the news.
“I was in the middle of offseason workouts and my coach told me I had a Kentucky offer,” Riles said. “I was tired so I did not know what to think about it. Then I got home and told everyone. It was crazy.”
Last week, Riles made plans to visit Florida. On the day before his trip, he and his coaches made his highlight tape and sent it to the coaches in Gainesville while he was on en route. When he arrived on campus, he was an unknown. But that quickly changed. Riles called tight ends coach Derek Lewis, who then handed the phone to Florida head coach Will Muschamp.
“At the junior day they honestly did not even know who I was. It was funny,” Riles said. “Then they watched the film and offered me on Monday. Coach Muschamp told me he wanted to get me to Gainesville and that I played with a lot of passion.That was crazy because I did not expect it to happen so fast. I was just focused on impressing the staff during their camp June 9. I was shellshocked to get the news.”
This morning Tennessee offered Riles, and that was just hours before his coach told him Georgia offered as well, so after school he called Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner to be certain.
“I wanted to make sure so I did not tell anyone something that I did not hear myself,” Riles said. “Garner told me I have an offer and they plan to all tell me when they see me on March 3.”
Later in the evening, Clemson offered as well.
Getting the news today that Antonio would have the opportunity to play football and get an education close to home was thrilling for the Riles household.
“I am at an all-time high,” Riles said. "Of course I watched Georgia since I was a little kid. That is my home team so I have liked them my whole life. I just told my family and they were surprised as well. Everyone is excited about it.”
Riles is not sure what position Georgia likes him at in the 3-4 defense, but the rising senior is anxious to get on campus in a few weeks and check out what his newest offer is all about.
“Wherever they want me to be, that is where I will play,” Riles said. “I have not seen the facilities yet either, so right now I am just eager to get up there March 3 for VID Day.”
The Georgia coaches emphasized to Riles last week that local talent was key to their plans for future success.
“They told me they are getting ready to win some SEC championships and they want to do it with as many kids from Georgia as possible,” Riles said.
With the process now taking off, Riles is not ready to think about a commitment. As hectic as the last few weeks have been for him, more offers are likely to come.
“I am just going to try and visit all of the schools to get a good feeling and try to build a bond with the coaches before I discuss making a decision with my mom,” Riles said.
When talking about what he does on the gridiron, Riles kept it simple.
“It is the best team sport there is, and I just love the passion involved with football, playing the game and enjoying the success with my teammates. Nothing beats it,” Riles said.