Earlier this month, West Virginia watched as their top defensive lineman, Will Clarke, was selected in the third round of the NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. A week later, the Mountaineers may have picked up a defensive end that could hear his name called in next year’s draft, Gardner-Webb graduate transfer Shaquille Riddick.
“Honestly, West Virginia just felt like the fit was right,” said Riddick. “The facilities were amazing. I have a real good relationship with the coaching staff. The defensive scheme that Coach [Tony] Gibson runs, I feel like I could make a lot of plays in it. Really, the fit just seemed right, so I signed because I didn’t want to look at any other schools.”
The 6-foot-6, 245-pounder was named an FCS All-American this past season after registering 67 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. With one year of eligibility remaining, he planned to transfer to an FBS school, but West Virginia was not originally a potential landing point.
“For me to talk to a team [as a grad transfer], I have to get a release,” said Riddick. “I never sent a release to West Virginia because I didn’t know they had any interest, but I guess they called Gardner-Webb and asked for my release and got it.”
If the Mountaineers’ interest was not obvious then, it was when the coaching staff rolled out the red carpet during Riddick’s recent visit and explained just how they wanted to use him in their defense.
“They said they were going to do a few things with me,” recalled Riddick. “They run a three-down-linemen set, so I’ll have my hand in the dirt for the most part, but I’ll be out on the edge with the one-on-one with the tackle.”
And with that, after only a one-day visit to Morgantown, Riddick signed a grant-in-aid with the Mountaineers. He’s not yet able to arrive on campus, needing to finish a couple of online courses in the coming months, but he says there are no concerns about things going smoothly there.
Once he gets here, Riddick says he has high hopes not only for himself, but for the team.
“Honestly, I just want to help the West Virginia program as much as I can,” he said. “I just want to contribute toward a Big12 championship.”
Chris Anderson is a full-time writer for eersports.com.