Joe Riddle: Terps pledge 'a childhood dream'
Joe Riddle isn't sure what position he'll play in college, and, quite frankly, the Linganore athlete doesn't care.
The only thing that mattered to Riddle was playing college football at Maryland. On Sunday, the rising senior from Frederick County accomplished that goal by landing a scholarship offer and immediately committing to the Terps.
“It feels great. It’s a great feeling, great news,” Riddle said. “This is what I wanted – to get an offer from Maryland. I wanted to go to school there since I was a little kid. It was definitely a good thing.”
Riddle, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound running back for the powerhouse Lancers, held scholarship offers from Buffalo, Cincinnati, New Hampshire, Towson and VMI heading into Sunday's camp in College Park. While he liked the Bearcats and enjoyed a visit to the Big East school, earning a Maryland offer was No. 1 on his list of priorities. Riddle had a good indication that – with a strong performance at camp – he’d be in line for a scholarship.
Maryland defensive line coach Greg “Gattuso was saying, ‘You’re going to come out of camp a happy man,’” Riddle recalled. “After the camp was over, Coach [Randy] Edsall approached me and said, ‘I want you and your father to come up [to my office]. We’re going to talk.’ We walked into Coach Edsall’s office, [and he was] talking about how impressed he was with me at camp, said I did a great job, saw everything he needed to see, [and then said], ‘We’re offering you a full-ride scholarship to come to Maryland.’ … I committed on the spot.”
Linganore coach Rick Conner has known Riddle for “six or seven years,” ever since his middle son played youth football with the future Terp. Even back then, Conner sensed that Riddle could have a college football future.
“He was a little thicker then, not as fast, but he did things where you went, ‘Wow, he might be OK,’” Conner said. “He takes care of his body. He eats right, gets his rest. When he got to Linganore, [we said], ‘We got something.’ He was getting the ball a lot on JV. We said, ‘Let’s see what happens.’ He came up as a sophomore, [we] kept him in the backfield and he was the primary starter and he played a great deal.”
As a junior, Riddle rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns while sharing time with Army-bound running back Dwayne Randall in the Lancers’ backfield. Riddle didn’t play much defense during his 11th-grade season, but he was an often-unstoppable mainstay on the offensive side of the ball.
“We counted on him for big plays,” Conner said. “We were a big-play offense. ... I think what we’re going to do with Joe more this year is we’re going to move him all over. He can catch the ball, he can run, he can open some things up in the passing game. We’ll throw it a little more, put Joe out there. He had a good day at Maryland running routes and catching the ball. I think he’s a versatile type of player. He could be a perimeter receiver or a motion jet guy. Or he could be an outside ‘backer or a free safety.”
Riddle, who played defensive end on the JV team as a freshman, worked out on both sides of the ball at Maryland’s camp, but says he has no preference regarding his college position. That eager-to-please attitude comes as no surprise to Conner, who called Riddle a “very coachable” player.
“He leads by example. He leads by effort,” Conner said. “We’ve had some great football players at Linganore High School and Joe is in that mold. He works as hard as any of them. It’s one of the great things about Joe. He’s a top player and also one of the hardest-working kids we have. It’s a great fit.”
Riddle plans to major in physical education at Maryland in hopes of becoming a teacher and coach after his playing days are done. In the meantime, Riddle says he can’t wait to play in front of his friends and family for “our hometown school.”
“It was a childhood dream just finally coming true,” Riddle said. “It’s an awesome feeling – probably one of the happiest days of my life.”