BRADENTON, Fla. — The coaches at The Opening Miami regional on Feb. 18 only needed a few minutes to see that Tre’von Riggins was out of position. The 3-star recruit began the morning at Gibson Park working as a defensive end for all of about 10 minutes. It was clear he was ready for a change.
A coach pulled Riggins aside and moved the defensive end over to work with the defensive tackles.
For Miami, this might have always been Riggins’ destiny. He committed to the Hurricanes on Jan. 10 as a 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive lineman. In a 3-4 defense, he may have been able to stick at defensive end. In Miami’s 4-3 defense, two years to grow before college would almost certainly mean he’d play inside.
This spring, his position change is becoming official. The junior is up to about 275 pounds and making the move inside for IMG Academy. Already, Riggins feels more comfortable.
“It’s easier inside because things happen quicker,” Riggins told DieHards after IMG’s practice last Monday. “I like it better, too.”
With the loaded Ascenders, moving inside will also be a path to more playing time. IMG boasts 5-star weakside defensive end Nolan Smith II on one side of the line and 4-star weakside defensive end Eric Gregory on the other. There are no blue-chip defensive tackles on the roster, though. Riggins will be in the mix for a starting role after playing sparingly as a sophomore transfer from St. Petersburg, Fla.
Riggins bounced back and forth between the Ascenders’ two teams in 2017. On the national team, the prospect logged only 8 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 forced fumble in six games. Still, his raw talent was enough to secure an invitation to the 2020 Under Armour All-America Game even as 247Sports.com dropped him to No. 273 overall in its Class of 2020 rankings.
As a defensive tackle, Riggins expects to capitalize on his upside. He was always quick for his size playing defensive end and his speed is even more noticeable while playing the interior. The biggest challenge is handling double teams, something he didn’t see much as a defensive end.
In 1-on-1 situations, though, he can be a dangerous pass rusher. He’s tried to get smarter about watching offensive linemen’s hands, and with his technique and burst, he can torment opposing guards.
“On my pass rush, I’m like real patient with it because everything happens quick,” Riggins said. “When I rush, I look at him, I look at his hands and as soon as he punches, I slap him and get up the field.
“I was quick at outside, now I’m inside and I feel like I’m a lot quicker than a lot of D-tackles.”
The transition made his latest visit with the Hurricanes a little bit different. The in-state prospect made his way to Miami on April 14 for the spring game at Hard Rock Stadium. He met with defensive line coach Jess Simpson in-person for the first time and they talked a bit about what his role could be as a defensive tackle.
This time, Riggins was also joined by his mother. Both left feeling good about his commitment to Miami.
“It was fun. I really enjoyed it,” Riggins said. “My mom, she liked it a lot.”
Still, Riggins will keep his options open with more than a year until he can sign a national letter of intent.
— Dontae Lucas (@7totha8) April 16, 2018
Florida State has become perhaps the biggest threat to flip Riggins after the Seminoles landed 4-star guard Dontae Lucas out of IMG on April 14. The two have become close in the four months since Lucas transferred from Miami High School. Riggins now knows he wants to check out Tallahassee, Fla., this summer.
“I just want to get to Florida State,” Riggins said. “Dontae, he’s a big influence. He’s like my brother. We’ll see what happens.”