MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With summer workouts in full-sweat and the start of West Virginia preseason camp less than 40 days away, MetroNews continues counting down our Top 10 Most Pivotal Players for the 2014 season. Today we highlight a summertime find from the transfer ranks:
No. 3 SHAQUILLE RIDDICK
Position: Defensive end
Measurables: 6-6, 245
As West Virginia sought to compensate for the graduation of sack leader Will Clarke, spring practice didn’t reveal many answers. Then came the May announcement that a Gardner Webb defensive end with FCS All-American credentials was headed to Morgantown.
A rangy late-bloomer who could have entered the NFL draft, Riddick chose to follow the graduate transfer route in hopes of proving himself in the FBS. Though probably too light to make any All-American teams at the major-college level, he could be a game-changer for a sack-thirsty Mountaineers defense. Riddick made 19 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks last season, including two against Marshall—a performance that indicates his pass-rushing skills can translate.
Another indicator? UCLA offered Riddick the day before he committed to West Virginia and Ohio State had begun calling to gauge his interest in coming to Columbus. If not for some quick relationship-building by new defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, it’s likely Riddick wouldn’t have considered WVU (which wasn’t initially on the list of schools to which he sent a release).
While making 69 tackles in 2013, Riddick wasn’t merely a pass-rush specialist. But he clearly liked the scheme Gibson pledged to implement for him—lined up wide and cocked on the side opposite the tight end.