Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Notre Dame target Riley talks Mickens, official visit plans

April 6, 2020

Just days ago, Philip Riley announced the final seven schools in his recruitment.

Making the cut for the 2021 four-star defensive back’s services was Notre Dame, as well as his native Washington, as well as Texas, Minnesota, Penn State, Mississippi State and Virginia Tech.

On Monday, Riley elaborated on his recruitment to Irish Sports Daily and also discussed his blossoming relationship with first-year Fighting Irish defensive backs coach Mike Mickens.

“I just felt like I got a feel for where I want to go and what I’m looking for in a school,” said the nearly 6-foot-1, 190-pounder. “I just focused on those schools and want to keep building the relationships with those schools.

“For each of those schools, I definitely felt like a priority. Not just as a football player, but as a person, also. They’ve been reaching out to me during this and making sure I’m OK. I’ve got unique relationships with those coaching staffs.”

A native of Washington state who moved to Valrico, Florida, prior to his junior season at Bloomingdale High School, Riley particularly is growing his relationship with Mickens, hired by the Fighting Irish last month to replace the departed Todd Lyght.

“Coach Mickens has been keeping me informed on how they’re getting better as a program,” said Riley, who held 37 offers before he trimmed his list to seven. “He’s been teaching me about the program, the education at Notre Dame. Football-wise, he’s talked to me about how much of a priority I am to them, and I was trying to set up dates to get up there [before the COVID-19 pandemic]. Just talking about life pretty much. Coach Mickens, we usually hop on FaceTime, talk technique, life, just everything.

“Honestly, me and Coach Mickens’ relationship is amazing. He is a really good guy to talk to, a great person, coach. Every morning he texts me an inspirational quote. And if it’s not an inspirational quote, he’s just checking on me and my family and planning times to FaceTime.”

Riley intends to take all of his official visits before he commits, and he’s got Notre Dame in that group of schools that will get him onto campus.

“I’m definitely going to take my officials before I make my decision,” Riley said. “Notre Dame will definitely be one of my officials. I’m looking to get up there.”

Until life regains some semblance of normalcy, Riley is still getting his work in several times a week with a couple of coaches and teammates.

“I try to do workouts with my defensive backs coach and wide receiver coach at a local park,” Riley said. “There’s a volleyball pit, I work out there, speed and footwork, I usually work out there 4 to 5 times a week. Just working my craft.”

As for his strengths? Riley points to his willingness to play at the line of scrimmage and get in the faces of opposing receivers.

“Definitely my press man, being physical on the line and my footwork” are strengths, Riley said. “I’m definitely just going to keep working at it. My 7-on-7 team in Washington, I feel like it gave me the tools it took to become the player I am now.”

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