ATHENS, Ga. -- Defensive end Antonio Riles is one of the first big stars to come out of Archer High School, a relatively new school in Lawrenceville, Ga. Riles has picked up offers from seven top programs including Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. Recently he was in Athens to check out the Bulldogs.
“I spoke with the coaches during their practice and after,” Riles said. “We got to talk on multiple occasions. I met with Coach [Mark] Richt, Coach [Rodney] Garner and my recruiting coordinator Coach [Bryan] McClendon. They said they were glad that I came up and want me to be up here as much as I can to see if I like it or not. They were recruiting me pretty hard.”
Riles got to watch the Bulldogs go through one of their spring practices, and the action on the field impressed him.
“It got kind of rough out there,” Riles said. “There were a lot of fights and stuff like that. But that is a good environment to be in because you know those guys want it. And that is how it is supposed to be. The offense is supposed to hate the defense and vice versa.”
Riles paid special attention to one Bulldog defender in particular.
“I talk a lot to Ray Drew,” Riles said. “We have a pretty good relationship. He is like a big brother to me already.”
Archer Head coach Andy Dyer brought Riles and some of his teammates up for the Georgia practice. Dyer has had Riles since he was a freshman and has watched as the previously raw defensive end developed into a coveted prospect.
“He is a big kid, 6-4 and 255 or 260 pounds, and the big programs like those big kids because there are not a lot of them,” Dyer said. “And he developed a lot, learning how to use his hands in conjunction with his feet and he started learning leverage. From a production standpoint, that helped us a team.”
Dyer credits assistant coach Ted Wilson for a lot of Riles’ improvement and says that there is more to come.
“He was figuring out how to play hard,” Dyer said. “Lots of times a high school kid, especially a young kid, they have to learn how to play hard for all four quarters. And he gives great effort, but there is even more he can give, and I think he will figure that out this fall. He played hard and with a lot of passion.”
College coaches have stopped by Archer to see Riles as well as his teammates Trevellous Cheek, a defensive back with multiple offers, and running back Earnest Alexander. Dyer says there is one aspect of Riles’ game that the collegiate coaches really like.
“He has really good lateral movement and that is one of the things they look for when they are watching tape,” Dyer said. “They don’t see a lot of 6-4 or 6-5 guys with good lateral movement. So that impresses them. And he is still growing. He is just barely shaving. He is going to be a monster.”
Riles seems almost a monster now when he runs out onto the field and towers over players trying to block him. But Dyer knows that the colleges lining up for Riles are not just interested in a big body. He and his staff plan to deliver an even more polished Riles after the upcoming season.
“Right now he is more of a bull-rush guy,” Dyer said. “If he is going to take it to that next level as a defensive lineman, he has to learn to disengage and make plays in the backfield. He has got to get to the quarterback-- disengage and run. But so long as he continues to take care of the class work and keeps taking care of the weight room, the sky is the limit.”