COCONUT CREEK —Nearly a month after his commitment to North Carolina State on twitter, North Broward Prep three-star receiver C.J. Riley officially signed his letter of intent to the Wolfpack Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s a great feeling,” Riley said. “I put in so much work over the course of my career, and there’s those times where you want to quit but you just got to keep going. And for it to finally pay off, it’s a great feeling.”
A small ceremony was held at North Broward for Riley and the Eagles’ other signees. Riley—who also had offers from Miami (FL), Nebraska, and West Virginia among 16 others—becomes the first North Broward football graduate to play at a power five football conference since tight end Tevin Westbrook did so at Florida in 2011. Although Riley had many attractive options and made the decisions after his senior season was over, he is confident he made the right choice to head to Raleigh.
“At NC State, I have the ability to come in and make an immediate impact my freshman year,” Riley said. “What the coaches told me about the program and the type of offense they are going to run, it’s a really great situation because I can make a big impact next season.”
The offensive strategy at N.C. State was a vital part of Riley’s decision. Riley likes the opportunity presented by the Wolfpack in which he will see significant playing time immediately in his freshman year. Furthermore, N.C. State’s offense is projected to be pass heavy with the hiring of new offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz. Drinkwitz was previously calling plays at Boise State, where he led the Broncos to a top-15 rank in total offense in 2015, and helped quarterback Brett Rypien lead the league in passing yards, total offense, and completions.
“Even though they have a new offensive coordinator, it’s still the same offense,” Riley said. “The only difference is they’re going to be more up-tempo, more fast-paced, more of a spread offense that likes to get the ball out quicker. It’s going to be a great fit.”
Riley, who played for North Broward for two seasons after spending his freshman and sophomore years at Monarch, put up huge numbers in his Eagles’ career. Riley caught 75 balls for over 2,000 yards and 26 touchdowns over the two-year stretch. His 1,047 receiving yards alone in his senior year led the Gold Coast Conference, while he ranked third in the league in total touchdowns with 14.
“Coaching over 20 years, once in a while you come across a stallion walking through the door,” North Broward Prep head coach Rex Nottage said of Riley. “C.J. Riley is a stallion. His productivity showed on the field, and when you have a stallion, it sure does make you look good as a coach.”
Riley is a huge get for the Wolfpack 2016 class, as the 6’5” 186-pound receiver will shore up their receiver situation. Riley is destined to shine in Raleigh, just as he did over his four high school years in Coconut Creek. His work ethic is impeccable, and with that skill, there’s no doubt that he will excel at the next level.
“C.J. is one of the most talented receivers that I’ve ever got the opportunity to work with,” North Broward Prep offensive coordinator Derrick Mays said. “Outside of him being 6’5” and a target every time we throw the ball and wherever we throw it, he has the speed, the agility, the quickness, he has great hands. So, he’s in my mind the best receiver I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach over the years. His tenacity is what separates him. N.C. State is going to be very pleased with the work that he puts in. He’s the first kid to practice, he stays after practice and works on his craft. He’s going to make a huge contribution to them.”
But, N.C. State isn’t the last stop for Riley. Riley hopes to succeed and work hard at N.C. State in efforts to make it to the NFL in a few years. He would become the second North Broward Prep football graduate to do so, as Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty—a North Broward graduate—is projected to get drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft.
“I’m just going to use my same hard-work effort that I used to get to college,” Riley said. “I just need to keep working so I can become even better. I think N.C. State is going to help me because I can get my weight up, improve my explosiveness and speed to hopefully get a shot to play pro.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jesse Nadelman is a 16-year old reporter for FloridaHSFootball.com, who currently is a junior at North Broward Prep. Growing up in South Florida, Jesse has grown an intense passion for sports media. He covers North Broward and South Florida’s top football teams and players for Florida HS Football. In addition to contributing to FHSFB, Jesse also writes for R.M.F. Magazine—where he covers top South Florida high school basketball—covers South Florida High School baseball, and currently holds Press Credentials and access for University of Miami Football games.
You can follow Jesse on twitter: @Nadelman99
(Photo Credit: North Broward Prep Athletics)