All Philip Riley needed was to visit campus. When the consensus four-star cornerback first committed to Notre Dame in May, he had yet to travel to South Bend. He still hadn’t in late September when he de-committed and promptly flipped to USC, but he stayed in touch with the Irish coaching staff, most notably cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens and defensive coordinator Clark Lea.
Riley (Bloomingdale High School; Valrico, Fla.) could not meet with Mickens or Lea when he visited Notre Dame at the end of October, not during an extended dead period mandated by the NCAA for obvious reasons, yet he saw enough to reverse his Trojan decision and rejoin the Irish class of 2021 on Monday.
“It was definitely welcoming and a friendly vibe,” Riley told Blue & Gold Illustrated. “It sucked that I couldn’t talk to the coaches or players, but seeing the students in their natural environment in their regular weekday definitely was amazing. …
“We saw how tight knit the community is and how they support their athletes.”
The No. 241 overall prospect in the country, per rivals.com, Riley also considered Oregon and Washington late, not to mention Virginia Tech, which was the original runner-up back in May. Clemson, Penn State and Texas, among others, also offered him a scholarship.
Despite a slight frame — 6-foot, 190 pounds — Riley is eager to tackle, and it is that frame’s quick hips that allow him to maintain contact with receivers downfield, along with good route recognition and efficient use of his hands, at least for a high schooler.
“They said I’ll be playing corner, but if I need to get moved to safety, then that’s something that we’re thinking about,” Riley said. “I’m fine with it 100 percent. I’m going to get bigger, so if I have to get moved to safety, then that’s something I’m comfortable with.”
When Riley arrives in South Bend to stay, not just visit, he will quickly have a chance to make an impact. Graduate transfer cornerback Nick McCloud may or may not stick around for his mulligan year of eligibility, but even if he does, there will be stiff competition to back him up, as the Irish have yet to show much Saturday confidence in sophomore Cam Hart, despite his lengthy frame.
The 20th commitment in Notre Dame’s class of 2021, Riley is expected to sign his National Letter of Intent on December 16, the first day of the early signing period. At the current rate, that will be an important week for Irish success both in the short- and long- terms.
— PhilipRileyJr (@Riley18Philip) November 17, 2020