Theo Riddick Returning to Running Back?

The most prominent position change Brian Kelly made when he took over the Fighting Irish last year was moving Theo Riddick from wide receiver to running back.  A year later, Kelly is contemplating moving the shifty junior back to running back.

Theo Riddick could be moving back to running back after a successful experiment at wide receiver in 2010. (Photo - Icon SMI)

After a slow start to the season, Riddick began to flourish in week 3 with a breakout performance against Michigan State.  Riddick reached the endzone for the first time in his collegiate career that night in East Lansing while recording 10 catches for 128 yards.

Over the next three weeks Riddick continued his strong play with 23 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns.

Project out Riddick’s four week totals over the course of a 12 game season and you get 99 catches and 1,029 yards with 9 touchdowns.   Not bad for a converted running back playing wide receiver for the first time.

Unfortunately, Riddick was injured early on against Western Michigan and ended up only recording three more catches for just 18 yards in his final three appearance of 2010.

Despite that success, however, Kelly said Friday that he and the staff would contemplate moving Riddick back to running back this spring.

“We’ve learned so much more about our football players and what they’re capable of doing – what their strengths and weaknesses are,” Kelly said Friday.

“We’re evaluating what our identity became compared to where it was at the start of the season.  You can make the case now that Theo Riddick should be a running back,” Kelly added.

The Notre Dame offense at the start of the season and at the end of the season were very different.  After the injury to Dayne Crist, Notre Dame began to rely on the running game much more heavily than before.   That shift in philosophy is one of the driving forces in Kelly contemplating position changes such as Riddick back wide receiver.

“A lot of this has to do with how we started on offense and where we finished and where our players best fit in the style of offense we’re going to play,” Kelly explained.

Riddick was used much more in the running game against Miami than he had been before his injury albeit out of the wildcat formation.  Should Riddick move back to running back, or even just take some reps there, it’s very possible he plays more of a hybrid role such as what Percy Harvin did at Florida a few years ago.  Riddick is too talented a receiver and too elusive a runner in open field to not utilize his receiving skills.

The development of other players at both positions could very well determine where Riddick ends up as well.  If for instance, Cameron Roberson or Jonas Gray emerges in the spring, either could form a solid backfield along with Cierre Wood.

At receiver, had Michael Floyd not returned for his senior season, Riddick would have almost certainly had to stay at wide receiver.  With Floyd back, however, Notre Dame could shift Riddick to running back if needed as long as one of the many young receivers on the roster emerges.

For now though, the staff hasn’t made any definitive decisions on where Riddick will be lining up in 2011.  “I think we’re going to have to have that conversation as a staff.  I think we’re going to have to vet that out.  I’m not ready to do that right now.”

When Kelly is ready to do that, it’s safe to assume he’ll use Riddick where he can get him the ball most frequently, because Riddick showed, when healthy, last year that he is one of the most dynamic playmakers on the Irish roster.

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  1. Texas Irish 7 years ago

    Since when did this page of Irish fans become a spelling bee? Were all fans so what’s the point of bashing each other and making fun of each other over spelling? So what a guy doesn’t spell Stanford right and another writes “one” instead of “won”. We all know what they meant to spell or say so let’s keep it at that.

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    1. joey d 7 years ago

      Eye tottaly argee!!

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    2. Irish 7 years ago

      Not the spelling, but the fact he thinks he is Jimmy the Greek.

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  2. BIGIRISH841 7 years ago


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    1. Scooter 7 years ago

      Are you sure they wouldn’t have TWO?

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  3. ted 7 years ago

    they are definitely capable but need better play on the o-line and qb positions. together they are too much of a wildcard to be predicting bcs championship game, but i like the enthusiasm.

    Another wildcard that people don’t realize is attrition in the coaching staff. that is part of the reason urban lost it, he was replacing coordinators every year.

    if our d plays like they did at the end of the season all of next year diaco will be plucked, that i guarantee.

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  4. John 7 years ago

    I would like for everyone to go back and look at my predictions for this season. If you don’t have the time here is a recap that I posted in early August.
    1. ND would beat
    a. Purdue
    b. Michigan
    c. MSU
    2. Loose to Standford (I said they would win the National Title
    3. Win against
    a. BC
    b. Pitt
    c. WMU
    d. Struggle against Navy and probably loose
    4. Sweep
    a. Tulsa
    b. Army
    c. UTAH
    d. USC
    5. Play in a BCS bowl and win
    OK! I admit not very good until you look at the season closer and the rest of the prediction.

    1. Dayne would go down and Tommy Reese would play like a champ.
    2. They beat MSU I don’t care what anyone says.
    3. Stanford was the best team in the country.
    4. They should have beat Michigan.
    5. They lost to Navy as expected.
    6. They lost a game that could have gone either way to Tulsa.
    Which brings me to the point!!!

    ND will go undefeated until they meet Standford (get your air tix and your seat now this is going to be a great game) Standford will play well but ND will shock the Cardinal and go to the BCS title game. I don’t think they will win that game just because the QB needs a little time in a few more big games.




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    1. Irish 7 years ago

      I predict you will learn how to spell Stanford.

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      1. BIGIRISH841 7 years ago


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    2. Jimmy Dugan 7 years ago

      John, I actually had looked at your predictions back then…and I knew a genius when I saw one…so I bet one thousand dollars on each of the games and now I’m loaded!!! You should have your own tv show!!!

      J/K you suck a fat one!

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      1. Irish 7 years ago


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    3. jack 7 years ago

      Stanford will not be all that next year. They will go 9-3

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  5. chris 7 years ago

    Kelly doesn’t feature 1 back for the whole game. I was thinking about who would replace Hughes as the 2nd back. Well who better than Riddick who is our fastest, most dynamic player. Having him and Wood back there rotating would make for 2 game breaking backs, similar to Allen and Wood at the beginning of the year. Hughes was nice to have as a change of pace guy and ended up being a bruising back at the end of a game when the defenses were tired, but having 2 game breaking backs is the way to go, imo.

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  6. irishman 7 years ago

    Riddick was injured for some his junior and most of his senior year of high school. He was also hurt some this year while playing WR. Don’t recall him missing time as a freshman, because he didn’t see the field all that much until later in the year. He is not that big of a player, with speed being his game. Can’t see him being used between the tackles much, he is best in space. A Percy Harvin type role would be very dynamic though.

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  7. Brandon 7 years ago

    I have a feeling that at this point it is more about letting Savon Huggins know that there is a spot open for him, and a need at ND more than any thing else. Hopefully Huggins realizes that he has a chance to help bring ND back to its tradition of winning championships. Because if these kids could prove all the analysts wrong and win a championship, they would go down as legends forever.

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    1. moemontana 7 years ago

      I think we’ve lost Huggins. He’s currently at Rutgers, having stayed a day longer than expected, having the time of his life.

      He also has a local girlfriend. He’s gone.

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      1. Tommy N.J. 7 years ago

        Why would anyone not want to play for a program that appears on national T.V. every week and gets more attention than any other school in the country ???? GO IRISH !!!!!

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  8. Power Run The Ball 7 years ago

    I think it more about using players to max potential and I agree with Ted that theo is a hybrid —reggie bush/ percy harvin TYPE… He helps Notre Dame more as a hybrid then a straight WR… there is no such thing as a 1 Running Back team anymore…

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  9. elkona 7 years ago

    Is this an indication that BK isn’t satisfied with C. Wood — and he wants Riddick to challenge him this spring? I know that Riddick excelled at WR in 2010, but he was very good as a freshman RB. He was lower rated as a recruit than C. Wood was. But Weis seemed to think that Riddick was better prepared to play than Wood.

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  10. ted 7 years ago

    riddick should be returning punts too. goodman was a complete nonfactor last year

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    1. bC 7 years ago

      I agree with you in some occations, maybe when we have them inside their own 30 or 40 so he has plenty of room to break out. But you have to admit (yea he never made any tom zbikowski break away returns) you very seldom see him back away from the ball and allow it to roll another 10 yards.

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    2. FightinIrish80 7 years ago

      Goody was primarily there for ball security.

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  11. ted 7 years ago

    using him as a hybrid is an excellent idea. frank mentions percy, but don’t forget reggie bush at u$c and even now in new orleans. weis even got tate more involved his last year. riddick should be getting the ball 10+ times a game. wildcat, bubble screens, hitches, and handing it off. he showed that he is the quickest, most elusive player on the team.

    i can’t wait to see the progression of the o-line and d-line. two years of work-outs with longo should really pay off. plus two years in the same system. good o-line play can make any running back look like a heisman candidate. and the saying should be “defensive lines win championships.”

    i’ve never been more excited as a fan. witnessing the growth of a football team is something special. the – true – notre-dame fans are a special breed. some might call us masochists for sticking around and following the team through the down years of the past two decades. but going through the down times makes the return to glory that much sweeter. we are obviously not over the hump yet, but the horizon is within reach.


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  12. Power Run The Ball 7 years ago

    Just Read Lou Holtz book win/ losses and lessons… Good book. good read… good for coaches, players, and Fans… Enjoy..

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  13. Power Run The Ball 7 years ago

    FLoyd/ Toma/ Tailer Jones/ Efiert

    RB- Theo Riddick with the option to put him at receiver will provide nice mismatches for ND

    1rb – 1 te – 3 wr

    Defense will have to play a nickel at best which would put a safety or lb on riddick if they split him out. Running on a Nickle defense is a nice option. defenses are also starting to play with more lb’s and D- backs which with a healty Crist gives ND’s offense a nice option of qb/rb runs or wildcat. Floyd provides two huge advantages to the offense;

    1) split him out two guys have to cover him


    2) KEEP HIM TIGHT- he blocks like a tight end.

    Efiert is also a nice receiving tight end and if you went with a 2nd TE Efiert can beat most safeties and the 2nd TE will provide a nice Run blocker to provide an additional advantage for the run/pass game..

    Riddick gives ND a nice mismatch option because he can be an effective Runner and Receiver…WildCat with- Riddick and Wood/Gray….

    Maybe Jonas can be converted to a FB/ Power Back this yr….
    again providing another mismatch if jonas can block a lb a little bit.
    2 or 3 wr’s, 1 or 2 TEs, Riddick and Jonas as RB’s giving ND a heavy package or a 4 receiver and 1 back look…

    Run the ball score points and let our 8 NEW pass rushers chase the QB. B/C everyone still want to pass the ball more then they should..

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