Wetumpka's Riley selected for Raycom College Football All-Star Classic: ASU safety receives an opportunity
Dec 10, 2012 (Montgomery Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Officials with the new Raycom College Football All-Star Classic are still assembling their "Stars" and "Stripes" teams from invitations sent to players, but executive director Johnny Williams confirmed two of the invitations to the game went to Alabama State All-Americans Kejuan Riley and Terren Jones.
"I would feel guilty (not inviting local athletes to the game)," Williams said. "They were recommended to us and we hope to offer them an opportunity to go to the NFL."
Both Riley and Jones, along with junior teammate Bobby Wenzig, were honored earlier in the week with their selection to the American Football Coaches Association All-America team. Both players acknowledged they had received invitations to play in the inaugural all-star game and planned to participate.
"The head man with the game called me and told me about it and said he was very interested in me playing in it," Riley said. "I just thank God for it. I get another chance to play in front of my fans."
Riley, a 6-foot-2, 208-pound senior who played at Wetumpka High, started for the past three seasons at free safety for the Hornets and earned first team all-conference honors each year. He finished his career as the school's career interception leader with 21 and in interception return yards with 348. The past two seasons, he has led the Southwestern Athletic Conference in interceptions and was the active leader in interceptions in Division I-AA.
On Jan. 19, he will have the opportunity to face some of the best seniors in Division I-A, matching skills with some of the top draft picks in the upcoming NFL draft.
"It's a big challenge," he said. "Everybody wants to see what I can do against them. I'm going to go out there and have fun and do what I do and play hard. I just have to go out there with all I can."
ASU coach Reggie Barlow, who played in both the Blue-Gray All-Star Football Classic and the Senior Bowl as a senior at Alabama State, said the invitation was "great for our program and great for those guys."
"I know Johnny Williams and hopefully the game will be as good as the Senior Bowl and the Blue-Gray was, back in the day," Barlow said. "There are two things about an all-star game -- it can either help your draft status a lot or it can show people you don't belong. But as an athlete, you see these other guys on TV, and you want to know how you measure up against them."
The 6-foot-7, 320-pound Jones, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., also earned All-SWAC honors for the third straight season and was generally considered the best left tackle in the conference over the last two seasons. His physical ability was evident at times on an offense that scored at least 30 points in six consecutive games, but his position coach had some concerns about Jones' mental approach to the all-star week.
"He has the ability physically, but whether he has the intensity and toughness to play on that level we're going to have to see," said ASU offensive line coach Willard Scissum. "I'm going to tell him I don't care if you're in shorts and helmets, you'd better stand out. If it looks like you'd better be dominating, you'd better dominate because they're not going to take average football players, especially from a Division I-AA school. So he's going to have to dominate whomever lines up in front of him every day in every drill or else they're going to take a guy from a bigger school. That's no secret. They're going to tell him that.
"You don't have a day to get warmed up. You'd better play on fire when you get there."
While both players will be trying to impress scouts at practice during the week, Riley had goals for the game as well.
"I want to take a pick-six back," he said. "That would be big. Just go out there and do what I can do. Show the world I can play with the big boys."
RAYCOM COLLEGE FOOTBALL ALL STAR CLASSIC
WHEN: 2 p.m. Jan. 19
WHERE: Cramton Bowl
TV: CBS Sports Network
TICKETS: $20 for general admission, $30 for reserved seats, $50 for club level, available at www.collegefootballgame.com and beginning Monday at Regions Bank
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