Theo Riddick Moving to Wide Receiver

It was bound to happen.  Players move positions every time there is a coaching change.  We got a glimpse of this on Tuesday with a report that rising sophomore Theo Riddick will be moving to wide receiver and competing for playing time in the slot this spring.  Riddick made his mark early in his freshman and established himself as the main kick returner and a viable option at halfback.  Starting this spring, he will be looking to make his mark at a new position.

The Chicago Tribune’s Brian Hamilton reported the story on his blog on Tuesday with quotes from head coach Brian Kelly citing the need to get more explosive players on the field as the reason for the move.

“We have to get more touches for the three dynamic players at running back,” Kelly said. “We got three really dynamic players that need to get on the field.

“So if you assume that the other guy we have to find room for is Cierre Wood, then if you have Cierre and Theo, somebody’s not going to get a chance to get touches. So somebody had to go to wide receiver. And Theo has the best overall skills. So he’s going to get a chance to compete for that inside slot receiver (spot) right away.”

The move makes a lot of sense.  Riddick showed a lot of promise as a freshman tailback.  He had a very nice burst and looked like he was about to break a long run at any time.  Getting an athlete like that the ball in his hands in the open field in a spread offense makes a lot of sense.

The move could also give a clue as to what Kelly and the staff think of the crop of wide receivers if they are willing to take Riddick out of the backfield and insert him into the receiving corps.

Heading into the spring, the only wide receiver who has a starting spot locked down is Michael Floyd.  The junior to be has a stranglehold on the #1 receiver spot at this point with senior Duval Kamara, juniors John Goodman and Deion Walker, and sophomores Shaquelle Evans and Roby Toma all fighting for playing time this spring.  Evans, Goodman, and Kamara are likely to battle it out for the #2 spot with Toma and Riddick the more natural candidates for the slot position.

Working in Riddick’s favor here is that he will be coached by the same position coach he had as a frosh in 2009 with Tony Aflord making the move from running backs to wide receiver coach this off-season.

Working against Riddick in his move is his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery.  How much he can participate in spring practice could determine how successful of a transition this is for the talented sophomore.

Cierre Wood didn’t record a snap as a freshman, but it seems like the new staff is pretty high on him based on Kelly’s comments.  Coming out of high school, Wood was seen as the more highly regarded prospect by most recruiting services, but he  got passed on the depth chart pretty early in camp by Riddick and didn’t see the field as a true freshman.  It looks like that could change in a hurry under the new regime.  This too makes sense since his game should fit in perfectly with the spread offense.

It is also interesting that Kelly mentioned Riddick, Wood, and undoubtedly Armando Allen (the report didn’t make mention of Allen by name).  What this means for Robert Hughes and Jonas Gray remains to be seen.   Hughes and Gray were the #2 and 3 backs for most of the season.  Where they now fit into the plans of Kelly and the new staff is unclear at this point.

There’s going to be a lot of positions up for grabs this spring and the back up running back and slot receiver positions just got a little more interesting.

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  1. Although I’m sure Theo will undoubtably be a playmaker at any position he moves to, this move is just the wrong decision. Theo was born to be a running back, I’m talking the next Barry Sanders here. Theo Riddick will one day be to the NFL what LeBron James is now to the NBA. Its that serious. I played football either with or against Theo ever since I started playing the game. His highschool, Immaculata, was our rival and I’m telling you first hand this kids got moves like Tomlinson and power like Peterson. It would genuinely be a waste of one of the futures great backs to put him anywhere other than Halfback. Let this be known, I’ve said all I can..

  2. Read on another site that Cierre Wood is moving to DB.

    Also in the same article comments from the players that the differences between the previous and new coaching staff is night and day with the new staff being far more professional creating better morale and a higher sense of trust in the locker room. Other news says there is no one looking to transfer.

    All good things. Time will tell. But I am really looking forward to the Kelley led Irish taking the field.

  3. Here is an interesting post off of another site:

    I’ve heard that the ND staff is pretty happy with the wide receiver situation… From what I’ve heard Floyd and Kamara are the #1 & #2. Nothing is set, but it seems the staff is comfortable with that heading into spring ball. Heard there is going to be tight competiiton for the 3rd and 4th spot with everyone in the mix.

    As I mentioned below the staff likes Armando and Hughes as the #1 and #2 at running back heading into spring ball. The staff wants guys that can hadle all three phases of the game, and those two stand out. Staff really likes how Hughes catches the ball. I’ve heard he’s really stepped into a leadership role. He’s working extremely hard and listens. He’s dropped his body fat %, and added muscle weight. He’s hovering around 240. Doubt we’ll see him down to 230 lbs, staff feels that he just has the body type to carry weight.

    Just keep hearing similar type of coments about competition, competition, competition. Everything revolves around competition. Heard every workout ends with some form of compeition. One catching on is the tug-of-war with a tire. Man on man… no time limit. ends when one guy pulls the other 5 yards. Heard that Blanton and Evans had a 10 minute battle…

    Training table continues to be a hit… Guys spending a lot more time together and more of a team atmosphere.

    A comment I heard about the former staff… Most of the players did like the former staff and respected them, but they also like the change. Things are just diffferent. They’re being pressed, and pushed… these guys are competitors and achievers and they like to be pressed and pushed. The sand pit hasn’t been added to the situation yet, but they all know about it and they’re looking forward to it.

    1. Thanks for the inside info scav,

      But I just don’t understand Hughes at the #2 back position…. He has his moments no doubt, I think the other guys need to touch the ball more, and I think with the style of Kellys offense, Jonas, Armando and Cierre will flourish.

  4. I personally see this situation playing out:

    They moved Riddick to wide reciever. This leaves Allen, Wood, and Hughes at running back. With the departure of Aldridge I think this opens the door for a possible move to fullback for Hughes. If that happens then I see Allen as the #1, Cierre Wood as the #2 guy and Jonas Gray as the #3 back. This way you have a solid leader in Allen, you have the dangerous speed in Wood, and you have a cut back specialist in Gray. I think all will work out very well this season as far as the backfield goes.

  5. I’m with IrishChan regarding joining the Big 10. While it might inevitably happen, what will happen to long standing rivalries Notre Dame currently has? On that same note, Notre Dame currently plays whoever they want and ALL the teams they play happen to Division IA (FBS) teams and not many big time programs can say that. I think ND will feel pressure to play Division IAA (FCS) teams so that they get wins to make the conference look better. If you have an undefeated ND playing an undefeated Michigan, Ohio St., Wisconsin, etc. that will make the Big 10 look better, which is what the conference wants.

    I always liked that ND never gave in and played IAA teams, although they might play some less talented IA teams, they are still IA teams. That’s my opinion, whether it be accurate or not (only time will tell), that’s something I don’t want to see happen to Notre Dame Football. I always enjoyed seeing who Notre Dame was going to schedule next. IF they join the Big 10, that suspense will be eliminated. Anyway, I hope they stay Indy and the comments are just made are irrevelant, but again, only time will tell.

    GO IRISH!!

  6. I like this move. I like that he didn’t mention Hughes, not sure why alot of people have been so high on him, he hasn’t shown much; looks slow, and doesn’t break many tackles, not very strong. I really liked what I saw of Jonas Gray, big back with power and speed. Fumbilitis kept him off the field, but hope he sticks and they get him some time. I’m thinking he’ll tranfer to a smaller school and be a stud.

  7. haha just bustin balls JC
    first and foremost i’m a St John’s fan (when it comes to Bball anyway), but since theyr gone, and just plain bad unfortunately, i’m goin ND all the way! would love to see them cuttin down the nets At the garden!

    1. Notre Dame basketball has come a long way with Mike Brey. I am FINALLY glad to see the Irish control the basketball game. ND trying to be run and gun was not the way they should play. Sure it’s exciting, but unless you’re hitting 50% from the field, it’s hard to win. ND is a very fundamentally sound team/program. They will never have the highest jumper or the most athletic or the best all round player, but they have ROLE players and a slowed down tempo allows those role players to make it happen.

      I would love to see them win the Big East with this new style of play because Harangody (their best player and likes to run) has accepted it and has excelled in limited time in new formula. And once he’s fully healthy…look out NCAA Tournament. I’m looking forward to their potential run in the Tourney.

      GO IRISH!!

  8. Shazamrock. Will ND be able to make more money in an expanded Big 10 conference than they make as an independent with the NBC contract? It can’t be THAT much more if any at all? I say this because I am with you, independence is one thing that makes ND the uniquely loved and hated icon that it is.

  9. good move. i like that he is talking about wood getting some pt. i think allen is a good kid and a great 3rd down back, but he is not very explosive. i know a lot of what i saw last year was the result of abysmal oline play, but it just seems like a spark is missing from his step. sort of like LT now compared to five years ago.

  10. Change is good! Case in point: Just look at what Mike Brey has done at the end of the season. Talk about a 360 on defense and reinventing the Basketball team. NCAA tournament anyone? Further, since Coach Kelly is well known for developing over achievers, I am optimistic about the pool of underdeveloped highly regarded players that want to make an impact. Success is contagious, I hope Kelly’s mojo rubs off on everyone.

  11. I know this post is about Riddic moving to WR, but I’m somewhat surprised that nothing has been written or said about ND foregoing their Independent status and joining a conference for football. It’s been talked about before, but the talk this time, seems like it is going to happen at some point in the near future. This is a huge decision for the university and it’s football future.
    I’m not sure if it will be for the better or the worst.
    I just know, as a Independent in football, our infuence was felt from coast to coast accross America.
    To me, “Independence” means FREEDOM. And nobody likes to loose their freedom.

    1. Hi Shazamrock,

      Good point, however in my view it’s all about the money. If ND cuts a deal to make more money in a conference? Well, Big Ten or whatever here we come.

      Further, the concept of freedom may be an after thought, considering all the financial communisum taking place in this country of late.

      1. And speaking of an after thought, it seems what might be best for the student athletes is also headed that way.
        Rumor has it that the Big 10 wants to exspand to 16 teams which would include ND.
        The TV revenue that ND would bring in would make the B-10
        the richest conference in the land. Doesn’t seem fair that a lot of people, make huge sums of money and the players get nothing.
        That’s capitalisum

      2. Not sure why Swarbrick is thinking out loud and stirring the pot? He is definetly turning out to be a drama king. For the record, I think the Big Ten is a joke relative to ND standards and we should remain independent.

        There is no reason to have more control freaks cashing in on ND. Real Capitalism?

      3. 16 teams? Wow. I hadn’t heard that. For me, I don’t really have a problem with joining the Big Ten…

        My biggest concerns are losing some of the rivalry games. USC? Boston College? Navy?

        We would still be able to play teams from around the county in non-conference play.

  12. I like the move, can’t really go wrong with the move unless Theo has no hands, which I am sure the coaching staff has looked at already.

    Any updates on Dayne? We heard that he was ahead on rehab a while ago, but I am just curious if he will be able to make spring games rather than miss them like we were told.

  13. It shows that Kelly has an eye for talent and is willing to move players around to put them in positions to contribute. I think we will see a lot of players being moved around this year. One player that I think will be interesting to see what he can do with him is Jonas Gray. He is a good back but fumbles to much. I could see him moving to LB with the speed and size he has or maybe they can solve his fumbling problem.

    1. Like what Travis Thomas did under CW? That was an interesting move. He was probably our best Linebacker that year (not saying much).

      1. He is a bette athelete than Travis Thomas and if he doesn’t get the fumbling under control he will never be a back. We need to get the best atheletes on the field.

      1. Not sure what the status is for Jonas Gray. But he is a decent “cut back” runner.
        Any time your run blocking is a zone blocking scheme, a good cut back runner can prove to be very valuable.

  14. Great move! I love it for some of the same reasons as you guys do. It shows me that Brian Kelly wants to put the 11 BEST players on the field regardless of package or situation or all that stuff that CW focused so hard on. BK comes in and says…you’re a great athlete and I’m going to get you on the field one way or another. That’s what wins college football games. This isn’t the NFL where most of the players have equal abilities. This is college where there are players far better than others. BK understands this and will make sure the best players are on the field everytime. I am excited about what he’s bringing to the table.

  15. It’s not the receiver spot that I’m worried about. There is plenty of talent and depth there already. If we don’t find a running game the offence won’t look much different than what we had with Charlie Weis. Perhaps moving Riddick is the first step in opening a spot in the backfield for Wood.
    Kelly also has to love having Allen and Hughes. Two guys who do a great job of catching the ball out of the backfield, picking up blitzes, and can run screens.
    I also have to believe that having our defense practice agianst the spread
    day in and day out will make them better as well.

  16. Love the move! Theo is explosive and according to reports, he has good hands. He wil definitely be one to watch. Kelly knows what he is doing….

    1. My only concern with this move is his hands. But that’s because I really have no idea how good they are. Other than that, I absolutely LOVE this move. It actually makes me giddy when I think about how explosive this kid looked last year, and how explosive GT looked his frosh year.

  17. I think this is a good move. It shows that Kelly wants to get playmakers on the field. Weis was too set on his personel packages and that left some playmakers off the field. How many times did we hear that Shaq was in the gameplan, but the game dictated how the packages were used and Shaq never got on the field.

    Kelly is going to put speedy athletes on the field. He is going to create mismatches. Wasn’t it Ricky Waters who moved to reciever only to come back to RB the next year. We could see Riddick back with Woods next year when Allen graduates.

    Maybe this move is also paving the way for Goodman to make the switch to QB? He supposedly has a rifle for an arm and we have seen how athletic he is. Probably a good fit for a spread offense.

  18. Personally I like Theo moving to the slot. We have a lot of talented backs sitting on the sidelines each and every snap. Lets find a way to get them into the game so that they might be able to break a big one off.

    Good aritcle Frank

  19. not sure how i fell about this.
    i saw the same thing you did Frankie, felt like theo was a split second away from breaking one off on many occasions. i figured with a little more experience (and perhaps, fingers crossed, better O-line play) he could become a big time RB. i mean, when is the last time we had a 40 yard+ run for a TD?? it feels like its been ages! however, the last running back that we transitioned to wide reciever certainly worked out well, so who knows?
    also i’m very interested to see what we get out of Cierre Wood. maybe he’ll be stud. the only way to find out is to get him on the field.

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