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This Guy Plays Notre Dame Football: #25 Philip Riley, Cornerback

Let’s talk about the highest-rated cornerback recruit the Irish have signed in the past 2 classes

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will, once again, take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2021 season.

#25 Philip Riley, CB

Philip Riley is one of the new kids on the block for the Fighting Irish — a true freshman, early-enrollee cornerback from Riverview, Florida (Bloomingdale High School).

At just under 6-ft and 198 lbs, Riley comes to the program a 4-star, good-sized, athletic prospect and the highest-rated DB in his 2021 class of ND signees (#304 overall and the #25 CB in the 247sports composite rankings) — more highly regarded than Ryan “Bo” Barnes, Justin Walters, Khari Gee, Chance Tucker, and JoJo Johnson.

Riley’s recruitment was a roller coaster, as he was a player who held other offers from the likes of Clemson, USC, Florida State, Iowa, Iowa State, Louisville, Miami, Michigan State, Oregon, Penn State, Texas, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, and various other solid programs. Needless to say, he had other options.

He initially committed to play for Clark Lea’s defense back in May 2020, but just four months later he announced his de-commitment and soon pledged to play for USC in 2021 instead.

The Irish stayed on him, though, and by November he had rescinded his commitment to the Trojans and once again pledged his loyalty to ND. That time it stuck, as he signed with Notre Dame just a month later and then joined several of his classmates in enrolling early this past February.

Bonus Note: he had some great hair last year, which can be seen in the video below. Unfortunately, his profile picture and this recent video of him both lead me to believe he has since chopped off his luscious locks — hopefully he brings them back by the time the 2021 season rolls around!

The Restaurant That Fits


I partially chose this because Rally’s can sound like “Riley’s” if you pronounce it funny, and partially because Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. — if you didn’t know, it’s a sort of Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s situation with Checkers and Rally’s, which merged in 1999 — is headquartered in Florida, which is Philip Riley’s home state.

Here’s to hoping Riley goes from being like the humble, brand-new burger startups that Rally’s and Checkers respectively were in Louisville, KY in 1985 and Mobile, AL in 1986 and rapidly develops into a juggernaut in his chosen field of football, just as they grew to establish ~900 locations across America.

2021 Outlook

Riley flashed a thing or two in the Blue-Gold Game in early May, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) he likely won’t see much playing time as a true freshman.

Right now, he’s likely #3 at the Boundary cornerback spot behind Cam Hart and Ramon Henderson, so he’ll probably only be called into duty by Marcus Freeman and Mike Mickens for garbage time or if there’s an injury that forces him into action (knocking on lots of wood that that never ends up being the case).

However, we might get to see him on some special teams in 2021, and hopefully a year in reserve behind some older guys will give him the chance to get stronger and learn the defense so that he’ll be prepared to contribute regularly in 2022 and then potentially earn a starting role in 2023 and beyond.

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