MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When defensive end Shaquille Riddick received his release from Gardner-Webb and began mulling destinations for his graduate season, it brought his first taste of recruiting.

He certainly didn’t receive any attention as a high school player in 2010.

“Coming from Akron, Ohio, I was a real under-recruited guy,” Riddick recalled. “I never had an official visit. I didn’t have not one offer from an FBS team or even a I-AA school.

“But Gardner-Webb came on at the end to give me a shot, and I took it.”

Even coaches at the Big South program couldn’t foresee they were landing a future FCS All-American. Though Riddick stood 6-foot-6, he didn’t look like football player.

“I was 175 pounds or 180 on a good day,” he said.

Three seasons and 70 pounds later, he’s recognized as one of the best pass-rushers in the FCS and scheduled to graduate from Gardner Webb this summer, opening up an opportunity for immediate eligibility at the some of the higher-profile programs that paid him zero attention previously.

By the time Riddick committed to West Virginia on Thursday, he held offers from a number of MAC schools and had just received a call from Ohio State, the program he cheered for as a kid.

Riddick didn’t take time to return the Buckeyes’ call, however, feeling West Virginia’s depth chart and scheme offered the prime opportunity to make an immediate impact.

“My main question was ‘Was I going to be able to come on and play right now?’ Because I don’t have time to sit in a program,” he said.

Riddick liked what he heard from Mountaineers defensive coaches, who projected playing him as a weak-side end with frequent one-on-one matchups against offensive tackles. Those conversations made Riddick think about replicating Bruce Irvin’s eye-popping totals as a junior college transfer.

“I feel like I can make a lot of plays in that scheme,” he said. “I grind day-in and day-out to be at the top of my game. I know there’s not too many defensive ends that an do what I do.

“I feel like I can make plays on the FBS level like I did on the FCS level. I don’t have worries when it comes to my skillset.”

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  • DP

    Love that interview, especially when Shaquille talks about taking care of business in the classroom. I look forward to big things from my young cousin!

  • Jim K

    From the video of this young man, it looks like he never fines up on the play! Love that. And he covers the field laterally really well. Hopefully, it translates well at this level. Welcome and good luck!

  • Randall

    It will be extra difficult coming in with only one summer of practice before your only season. But practice hard, and it will pay off. You will never regret your year at WVU.

  • mike

    Welcome to the mountaineers good luck


    We like players with fire in there bellies!!!!

    Welcome aboard my good friend, WVU and everyone else in college football needs a pass rusher, I am glad you choose us to show your skills... but you will not be the first player who thought they had enough skills coming in from FCS level, that found it is harder then first thought; it is all about the 11 ballplayers making plays (beating the hell out of the other team on every snap) and never letting the motor dip below 100 mph on the field... Work, work... Work Work.. 12 round fight with 80 to 85 snaps per fight, how much of that picture do you see yourself contributing to the Mountaineers.

    Nick Sabin's team is bringing a fight to a football game .... come this August we will see how we handle getting hit in the mouth ....The War in Atlanta is going to be fun for someone, will it be us?



  • Big Larry

    Capt. Obvious, I'll bet you havnt had many plans work out for you.....

  • Capt. Obvious

    Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.--Mike Tyson

  • John

    Being located only about 70 miles from Gardner-Webb's campus, I have had a chance to see this young man play. His skill set will help a defense that everyone knows has been really bad the past couple of years. Congrads, Mr. Riddick. Welcome to WVU; step up; stay healthy; and please get to the QB!!

  • uncle phil

    I like this kid. He's talented and he's got a chip on his shoulder. He's hungry.

  • Grae

    Congrats man, very excited to see what the future holds for you. I love your hard work and dedication!

  • TheEricSmith

    It only takes one season to be a life long mountaineer. Welcome aboard!

    • OJ was guilty

      Amen. Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer!

  • 4WVUinKY

    Welcome to Mountaineer Nation young man! Now go do your thing!

  • Dave

    I just love a guy that has that kind of confidence. Welcome and take pride in being a Mountaineer.

  • Tim Bailes Sebring Fl

    Welcome to Mountaineer Country, good luck stay healthy, study hard, enjoy the ride. We are glade to have you.

  • Rick55

    The young man certainly doesn't seem to lack confidence. That may be a good thing. You have to have confidence in your own skillset to have success. That and hit somebody really really hard.