Notre Dame picked up another member for the 2014 Fighting Irish on Wednesday when former Florida cornerback/safety Cody Riggs announced that he will be transferring to Notre Dame for the fall semester to begin graduate studies and use his final season of eligibility.
Ever since Riggs announced the he was transferring from Florida to use the NCAA 5th year transfer rule for academic reasons, Notre Dame was consider the odds on favorite to land Riggs for the 2014 season. Wednesday the speculation became official with Riggs and Notre Dame releasing a statement on his pending transfer.
“He (Riggs) will help us immediately but, more importantly, Cody is a great kid with a tremendous focus on both football and academics,” said Brian Kelly in a statement released by Notre Dame. “His decision to complete his collegiate playing career and pursue a graduate degree at the University of Notre Dame speaks volumes about both our program and University.”
Riggs visited Notre Dame’s campus earlier this week after winter weather canceled a previously scheduled trip last week. Riggs’ visit was all he needed to confirm that Notre Dame was where he wanted to continue his academic and athletic career. “”Being on campus, meeting with the academic personnel and interacting with the Notre Dame players helped me dot the I’s and cross the T’s on what has been the toughest decision of my life,” said Riggs. “I am excited about working hard in the classroom and expanding my professional network in pursuit of a graduate degree from Notre Dame. I am equally excited to contribute on the field and make some big plays to help the team win games.”
Riggs will immediately compete for playing time in the Notre Dame defensive backfield once he arrives on campus in June although it is not clear at what position. Riggs has played and started at both safety and corner throughout his career at Florida and Notre Dame could certainly use help at both positions.
At corner, Notre Dame will be replacing Bennett Jackson, but sophomores to be Cole Luke, Devin Butler, and Rashad Kinlaw will all get a leg up on the competition there this spring. Given Riggs’ previously experience playing in the SEC though, that might not matter as much since he has 26 career starts under his belt.
Riggs played safety for a stout Florida defense in 2013, but does not possess ideal size for the position and it has been reported that Riggs would prefer to play corner.
The one thing that is for sure, however, is that Riggs is going to immediately bolster a secondary that took a step back in 2013 after being a very pleasant surprise in 2012. Keivarae Russell began to emerge as a legit lockdown corner by the end of the season, but outside of Russell, it would not be wish to assume any other returning member of the 2013 secondary has a starting position locked up heading into spring.
Wherever Riggs ends up playing, Notre Dame just added a defensive back with 26 career starts in the SEC to a defense that was unable to replace the leadership that was lost by the graduations of Kapron Lewis-Moore and Manti Te’o following the 2012 season. So, while there are still a lot of questions to answer between now and August 31 for the Irish defense and new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, that’s a good start.