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Irish A-to-Z: Cody Riggs

Aug 13, 2014, 7:48 PM EDT

Todd Gurley, Neiron Ball, Cody Riggs Todd Gurley, Neiron Ball, Cody Riggs

After using the graduate transfer rule to fill niche roles like situational punter, Notre Dame landed a potential difference maker in Florida graduate Cody Riggs. After starting 26 games between cornerback and safety for the Gators, Riggs decided to play out his collegiate eligibility with the Irish, a school he almost committed to out of high school.

While undersized, Riggs is a versatile, physical defensive back that’s capable of playing corner, safety or battling in the slot. He’s already made his presence felt on campus as he’s worked his way into the starting mix. Let’s take a closer look at what Riggs has to offer.


5’9″ 185 lbs.
Grad Student, No. 2



An Under Armour All-American at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Riggs took an official visit to Notre Dame in November before eventually chosing Florida. His recruitment was started by the Weis regime, making it difficult for the Irish to win the four-star prospect during a transitional class.

At just 5-foot-8.5 and 160 pounds, Riggs didn’t likely profile as a cornerback of Bob Diaco’s liking. But Riggs’ name connected rather quickly with Notre Dame after he made the decision to look elsewhere this spring, and Riggs chose Notre Dame over a slew of other options to play out his fifth year.



Freshman Season (2010): Played in all 13 games for the Gators, starting three. Made 18 total tackles on the year as a cornerback. One of six true freshmen to play, and the first sub in at cornerback.

Sophomore Season (2011): Played in all 13 games, making 10 starts. Contributed 31 tackles, including 1.5 TFL.

Junior Season (2012): Played in two games before fracturing his foot. Earned medical redshirt.

Senior Season (2013): Played and started all 13 games as a safety for the Gators. Finished fourth on the team with 51 tackles and unofficially 10 TFLs.



Riggs came to Notre Dame not just to get an advanced graduate degree, but to prove his worth on the field as more than just a safety. Stuck behind two elite cornerbacks that profile to be high NFL Draft picks, Riggs took advantage of his medical redshirt and ability to improve his professional stock both on and off the field by heading to Notre Dame.

While his size certainly hinders his upside, Riggs has top-end speed and no fear of contact. He also adds a versatility that Brian VanGorder seems to covet.

With less than three weeks to go before the season opener, Riggs has solidified his job as a starting cornerback, adding another veteran in the secondary who will line up opposite KeiVarae Russell. He’ll team with Cole Luke and Devin Butler to provide significant depth behind Russell, and Riggs’ ability to slide inside and out should make him a key piece of the secondary.

Getting reps in the punt return game, the staff is looking to find ways for Riggs to make a difference. He’s only notched one interception at the college level, so if he’s able to help create turnovers or other big plays, he’ll turn his single season in South Bend into a very memorable one.



Expect Riggs to bring some SEC attitude and a veteran presence to the secondary. While KeiVarae Russell’s talent has people excited, he’s still entering just his third year of playing defensive back. Add to that first-year starter Max Redfield and converted wide receiver Austin Collinsworth, and you begin to understand how helpful a player like Riggs is on the Irish defense.

While we’ll know more about his top-end ability in the coming weeks, Riggs has NFL potential. Add that to some positional versatility and elite speed, and he feels like a perfect fit for VanGorder… even if he was a player that Bob Diaco might not have chased.

As we’ve seen in the past, Brian Kelly will do whatever it takes to make sure he’s getting as much as possible out of his 85-man scholarship roster. Adding a piece like Riggs gives Kelly a skilled defensive back that we haven’t seen all that often in South Bend, and turns a position that was high on talent but low on experience into one of the strongest spots on the roster.


The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Will Fuller
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Cam McDaniel
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Pete Mokwuah
John Montelus
Kendall Moore
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson
Tyler Newsome
Romeo Okwara
James Onwualu
C.J. Prosise
Anthony Rabasa
Doug Randolph
Max Redfield

  1. bernhtp - Aug 13, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    I am excited to have two high-caliber corners going into the BVG press-coverage era. It might actually work.

    Riggs and Russell appear to be developing a good relationship. I hope this translates into some cross pollination of experience and knowledge.

    The depth at the position (and safety) is also a great thing and should pay dividends on improved special teams play where top athletes are running down the field into kickoff and punt coverage.

  2. bernhtp - Aug 13, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    I’m not waiting for Keith’s article on Kelly’s presser this afternoon, so will comment. I’ve ready several already lamenting Trumbetti being named a starter and other frosh in the two deep. I’m actually happy – happy not that we don’t have Tuitt on the team, but happy that a frosh was so good as to beat out a junior everyone presumed would win the job.

    Here’s the money part of the Q&A that makes me optimistic:

    Q: Do you recall in your career when you’ve had to rely on so many freshmen in the front seven? Does that leave a sense of unease?

    BK: I think in years past I probably would be but then my eyes tell me something different when I watch them. They’ve got an edge to them. Nyles Morgan, Jonathan Bonner, Jhonny Williams, Trumbetti, Kolin Hill. I just watch these guys play. Isaac Rochell is a beast. These guys are physical football players and they’ve got an edge to them. (Daniel) Cage is a load. Just all of these guys. I’m watching them every day. I’m going against them every day. I’m liking it. I know when you have holes. I’ve been around long enough. I know when you look at them and go, ‘Oof, that’s not very good.’ Now they’re young. We might cut a gap loose. We may be in the wrong gap. But it’s not because we’re not ripping and roaring up the field. It’ll be fun but they’re gonna cause a few moments of coach VanGorder throwing his hat on the ground. I’m sure of that. But the thing is it’s a physical group. It’s a physical group.

    Anyway, Kelly appears to be pleasantly surprised with the quality and development of the class. So while there is unusual demand to play frosh in the front seven, there also appears to be supply. Of course, Kelly might be just putting a positive spin on a difficult situation, but I don’t think so.

    • dickasman - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:50 AM

      I am a bit shocked but oh well just make it work on sat afternoons. We ll see if he can hold on to the starting spot

  3. irishmob89 - Aug 13, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    I like the way Kelly is building this team. Fast, aggressive, and he’s recruiting players that play with an edge, something we lacked in the past. We’ve looked a step slow on defense in the past and Kelly knew that and he’s clearly changing the culture of the defense.

    The biggest difference between VanGorder and Diaco:
    Diaco: A defense of gentlemen
    VanGorder: A defense of hardasses.

    • tucsonfan - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:25 PM

      I don’t know–everyone seems to think aggressive is by definition effective. Diaco put a defense on the field in 2012 that was plenty effective and aggressive, just a different scheme. remember the goal line stands? Pretty damn aggressive if you ask me. And last year would have been much better than it was if he hadn’t lost so many front line players to injury all year.

      I do hope Van Gorder’s defense is effective. I just want to win.

      One position I do worry about is safety–Collinsworth is questionable. I know Riggs wants to play CB, but I’d be a lot happier if he played instead of Collinsworth at safety.

      • shamrockos - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:08 AM

        Hopefully with the aggressive defense we’ll have 3 and outs and not goal line stands.

  4. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    Sec sec sec.

  5. mtflsmitty - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:00 AM

    The 2013 win against MSU elicited a lot of criticism from ND nation. I recall lots of comments that the refs gave us the game with defensive interference calls that delivered us several 1st downs. I didn’t agree. MSU’s defensive backs played man to man for most of the game, and as a result had to be very physical in coverage. It was their game plan. But they earned every penalty they received.

    Watching the video coverage of our D-backs in practice, along with everything I’ve heard about BVG’s game plan, it seems like KR, CR, CL and the rest of the boys will be forced to be very physical in coverage as well. I expect a frustratingly high frequency of calls going against our DBs. But if go 11-1, I’ll take it.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:07 AM

      Don’t you remember what Jimmy Johnson said about playing in South Bend.. The game had terrible calls along with the Stanford game. That was borderline criminal. Notre Dame just isn’t what it use to be we rely on a miracles to happen.

      • fish95 - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:32 AM

        Hard not to be impressed by an appeal to the authority of … THE OPPOSING COACH … in other news, Mark Dantonio thought pass interference calls cost MSU the game last year … Nick Saban thinks the hurry up offense should be illegal … the Coyote complained of “illegal use of an anvil” by the Roadrunner … also, CNN just quoted The Fox (not to be confused with “Fox”) as follows: “The grapes were sour anyway” …

      • jmfinsd - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        Please, please, please stop saying “we.” We know where you’re from, what you do, and why you’re here. “We” doesn’t fool anyone.

      • nddude - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        The reality, with the exception of the College Football National Championship Game of 2012, is that Notre Dame – even in the Sloppy Fat Chuck Era – hasn’t been blown out…..more to the point, a lot of games have been either won or lost by a score or a good/bad call. Boomshockalocka.

    • onward2victory - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      I am a huge fan of playing physical on the outside. Force the refs to make calls. Sure there will be a big penalty or two throughout the season, but I think the net gain is worth it. Plus if MSU had our O line, RBs, WRs, and Golson last year, they would have beat us by 2-3 TDs.

  6. yaketyyacc - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:42 AM

    Keith, what do you mean “sec attitude”? Are you capitulating to the erroneous belief that the SEC is somehow superior.. Maybe John, I love the SEC, Gratisspeaking has infected your judgment.
    But like coach Kelly, picking Golson over Zaire, you are entitled to make one mistake, although Kelly’s mistake will bear ominous results.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      You guys have a few things to learn about CFB. First thing is wipe your football knowledge out of your head. Now repeat after me SEC TALENT IS THE BEST…. Next look at our roster and pick out the Nations Best, Cody Riggs .. Good ! Now compare that to Alabama who ran us over in the NC and count how many SEC Players they have… Is it all coming together… SEC TOP DAWG Everyone else is a compromise.

  7. knuterocknesghost - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    As far as naming freshman to the starting defense, three true freshman defensive players figured prominently on Ara’s 1973 national championship team: Luther Bradley, Ross Browner, and Willie Fry. Bradley and Browner were starters, and Fry regularly spelled Jim Stock as a defensive end. On the same team, freshman Al Hunter was ND’s kickoff return specialist, and had that memorable 93 yard kickoff return against Alabama in that season’s Sugar Bowl contest. Not predicting a repeat because of this year’s reliance on freshmen. Just saying the talent and a player’s readiness to contribute on the college level ought not be overlooked simply by his being a freshman. Kelly likes what he sees and named those freshman in his press conference who he characterized as having an “edge”. That’s Kelly speak for they’ve exhibited an intensity that qualifies as a “mean streak”. As Bear Bryant has been repeatedly quoted as saying: “I want my players to be mobile, agile, and hostile.”

    • nudeman - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      Great post, assuming anyone one wanted to know about your command of ND football history
      No one did

  8. fnc111 - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    Saw Riggs on a golf cart Monday near the Gug. I think he had just gotten out of the cold tub. Hopefully he wins the opportunity to return punts.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:57 PM


  9. ndfaithful - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    I have enjoyed this walk thru the roster. (but I’m really excited that the ‘5 things’ articles are coming soon)

    I keep reading about how Diaco wouldn’t have chased this person or another person didn’t profile well. All the while, they seem to be starting and playing well at other schools.

    If the defense plays well and looks explosive this year, Diaco is going to look pretty silly.

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