Nick Lucero - Rivals.com
Offensive lineman Syr Riley isn't a typical prospect, though it's hard to be typical when you stand at 6'4" and 315 lbs, but Riley has a little business for himself on the side.
"I have a little small baking business that I’ve been dealing with for a few years now." Riley said when asked what he'd"It’d be good to learn business, but at the same time, computer science and engineering is a lot more entertaining, if you will. But it’s between those two I’ve been bouncing around. My grandfather is a professor and he teaches business management, so I’ve been thinking about taking a class or a course over the summer with him."
Riley notes that the baking is something that has grown over time to something small, but significant enough to have him thinking about studying business at the college level.
"I kinda do a little bit of everything. My mom, she taught me how to cook at a young age. I’ve been cooking as long as I can remember and I started to bake. I would bake brownies sometimes, but I bake them for my school, if my black student union, if they needed some funds raised, I’d bake for them, but I also just bake to sell for a little bit of profit, a little bit of personal gain so I can buy some of the equipment and stuff that I need. It’s not a job, it’s not a full time job, it’s kind of a side, something I can use to get a few extra bucks if I need to buy a knee brace or an extra pair of gloves. Dealing with that, it has brought up that I need to be able to handle a business if I do want to take that long term."
With that, Riley's recruitment is starting to heat up, as he claims four offers at the moment. The first of these was from Cal, and he had the opportunity to visit Berkeley on Friday and Saturday last week, taking in a couple practices and Cal's junior day festivities.
"My visit, I felt it went great," Riley said. "I got up there on Friday and while I was there, we got there early so I went over there and checked out the practice, got a little bit of a tour of their facilities. In practices, they’re very competitive. At the same time, everybody wants to get better, everybody wants to see everybody get better. It was a great atmosphere to be around, a group of guys who want to accomplish something so much."
Riley got to spend a little more time on Saturday with the rest of the recruits at Junior Day, asking questions of the coaching staff and seeing Memorial Stadium get a light dusting of hail.
"On the junior day, there were commits there, there were people that had Cal on their list," Riley said. "We were all checking it out, we were all forming questions to the coaching staff about why Cal could be the best decision for us and what it has to offer. The coaching staff, when we asked the questions they definitely answered them in a way that made me feel good about coming to their school. They answered the questions, they made me like Cal would be a place to be if I want to take the opportunity. I didn’t commit, definitely didn’t want to commit too early, but it was a great atmosphere to be around."
Cal was Riley's first offer back in February, with offensive line coach Steve Greatwood making the initial contact. Riley got to see Greatwood in action on Saturday as well.
"Coach Greatwood," Riley said"me and him have been talking. I know that he was the man at Oregon. I watched him coach up some of the other O-Linemen there during their practices. He’s a very ‘get straight to the point guy,’ who likes to see results, he wanted nothing but proper form and technique. We’ve been talking, he definitely thinks that I’d be a great fit in the program, we’re building that relationship."
Riley did have a Cal connection before coming up to the campus, and he got to reconnect a bit with a friend of his in linebacker Ray Davison, who he's used as a well of advice.
"Ray Ray and I," Riley noted"we know each other through family. My godfather was really close friends with him and my head coach used to coach Ray Ray up at Crespi, so a few questions I’d have about recruiting, or not necessarily recruiting, but the game, during the season he’d help me answer them. He was basically a great mentor, he was there to coach me up, he always wanted to see me do big things."
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As for actual positions, Riley has been told by the Cal coaching staff that they see him as a guard. His high school coach is planning on using him at guard as well, along with continuing to play defensive tackle, playing both ways for the second year in a row. Riley was the lineman of the year in the Western League a season ago, clearing holes for running backs like Innocence Okoh, who put up almost 2000 yards and 21 TDs a year ago, along with helping his Pacific Palisades team to rushing for over 3400 yards this past season.
Riley's taking to playing guard, as he took a few reps there at the Rivals 3-Stripe Camp Sunday at Citrus College in Glendora (an LA suburb), and he felt that he acquitted himself nicely.
"I’ve been learning the position," Riley said,"I had a few reps in at it at the camp in Los Angeles, the Rivals camp, and I think I did great at it, a little better than I did at tackle."
The Rivals camp, part of an expansion in the Rivals camps from years past, was a bit of a coming out party for Riley, who got bumped up to three stars after being unrated, and got some praise from from a few fellow recruits on his performance.
"The Rivals camp went great," Riley said, "I learned a lot of things, a lot of new things I can take back home and take to practice and spring ball and help my other O-Linemen learn technique, form, stance. Definitely learned a lot from the coaching staff. One on ones, I think I did solid at right tackle, but my last two reps were at guard and I felt like I did outstanding from what one of the coaches told me. I definitely had a great time at the Rivals camp today."
For now, Riley's focused on learning the guard spot, it'll be his first full year there, and going forward with the once in a lifetime recruiting process.
"I don’t want to rush into it too early," Riley said about when a commitment would come, "I don’t want to shut down my recruiting process too early. I don’t know when I will commit, but I definitely do love visiting the facilities and the staffs of the schools that are giving me a chance, an opportunity to play football."
It's still pretty early for Riley, who has other offers from Colorado State, Navy, and Washington State, and Cal was his first visit to a school, so it'll take some time for Riley to make a decision. But Cal did make an impression.
"I want to definitely take a look at what the other schools have to offer me," Riley said, "what they could offer me, how they could make me a better player, but Cal definitely did impress me with their junior day, it was amazing.