WVU signs defensive end transfer

All-America defensive end Shaquille Riddick of Gardner-Webb told his coach he’d like to finish his career closer to his home in Akron, Ohio.

Fortunately for West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, Morgantown is but three hours away from Akron.

On Friday, Riddick, a 6-foot-6, 244-pound pass rusher, used Twitter to announce he’s transferring to WVU. He’ll have one season of eligibility remaining and will be able to play immediately pending acceptance into a WVU graduate program.

“This is my future I’m excited to be apart of such a amazing culture and program. #wvu #mountaineer #blueandgold,” Riddick announced on Twitter. He also tweeted a picture showing him signing the necessary papers.

“Shaquille has put himself in a position academically to graduate two semesters ahead of schedule and he feels strongly that he should transfer in an attempt to play FBS football closer to home,” Gardner-Webb coach Carroll McCray said in a May 6 press release. “We are always disappointed when a young man chooses to leave our program, but we wish him well in his future pursuits.”

Gardner-Webb is located in Boiling Springs, N.C. The school, which finished 7-5 last season, is a member of the Big South Conference.

Riddick could provide WVU with a clone of former Mountaineer Will Clarke, who was recently selected in the third round of the NFL draft by Cincinnati.

Riddick earned multiple FCS All-America honors after last season, including Associated Press (first team), Walter Camp Foundation (first team) and Sports Network (second team). He also finished fifth in voting for the 2013 Buck Buchanan Award, the highest ever for a Gardner-Webb defender, and was included on the 2013 mid-season Watch List for the prestigious Ted Hendricks Award (which was taken home by Texas end Jackson Jeffcoat).

Riddick had a breakout season for the Runnin’ Bulldogs in 2013 with 67 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 17 quarterback pressures, 8.5 sacks and a pair of pass breakups. His sack total set a Big South Conference single-season record, which he accomplished in 11 games. In a game against Marshall last season, he had seven tackles, three for loss, including a pair of sacks.

Riddick ranked second nationally in tackles for loss per game and led the nation with 109 negative yards recorded on those. GWU played four FCS Top 25 teams and the end had 28 total hits, nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and nine pressures. He helped the Runnin’ Bulldogs to a No. 5 spot nationally in total defense with a Big South-record 296.8 yards allowed per game.

Riddick has been rated as the No. 15 defensive end prospect for the 2015 NFL draft by NFLDraftScout.com. Gibson recruited the player for WVU.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827 or mitchvingle@wvgazette.com.

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