The recruiting process is really just getting started for Chris Riddle, but the 2015 Virginia quarterback had an experience this weekend that is going to stay with him throughout process and possibly for the rest of his life.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder from Tuscarora High School in Leesburg, Va., took a visit to Notre Dame for the Wake Forest game this past weekend. Riddle was surprised to learn that he and the other visiting recruits would be able to follow the Irish squad as they walked through the fans to Notre Dame Stadium.
“At first, like most young recruits, I was in awe of the rock star-like feeling of having thousands of fans cheering for you,” Riddle remembered. “I’d hear dads tell their sons “Those are the next generation of Irish” and other fans say things like “We want you at Notre Dame!” - it was very cool.
“As I continued to walk I imagined myself as player instead of recruit and I began to realize that these guys must not only feel a lot of pride to play for a program with such a great legacy, there is also a burden they must shoulder. I realized that when guys like (Everett) Golson or (Tommy) Rees get under center, they aren’t just playing for themselves or their teams. It’s so much bigger than that. They are playing to protect the honor of Notre Dame. They are playing for their hundreds of thousands of fans all over the world. But to me, they were playing for that little boy whose father pointed to us as the next generation of Irish.
“When we finally got to the Knute Rockne Gate at the stadium and the fans were erupting in excitement, it was right then and there I decided that Notre Dame was in my top 5. Because for me, football has never been about my own glory, it’s been about my team, about honoring God, my own competitive nature and giving back to those who've supported me throughout my life. And for me, that’s what Notre Dame represents.”
Riddle has taken visits to Pittsburgh and Boston College, but the trip to South Bend with his father Jon was clearly different.
“It’s so much different than I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I’ve only been to a couple colleges, but that by far has been the best; fan-wise and sports-wise.”
Riddle was also impressed with the facilities and campus.
“It was beautiful,” he said. “I saw Touchdown Jesus. We didn’t get to tour a lot of the campus, we got to tour the athletic facilities. They were really nice. We got to see the weight room and the locker room with all of the equipment. It was so nice. I went to Pitt and I saw theirs. It was pretty cool, but Notre Dame outshined them.”
Riddle, who is also receiving early interest from Georgia, had a chance to meet Irish recruiting coordinator Tony Alford, but he missed out on hearing from Brian Kelly.
“I just introduced myself and told him where I was from and he said he would keep an eye out for me,” Riddle said of Alford. “I had to go get one of my dad’s friends because he was running late. Right as I left, Coach Kelly came in the room and they wouldn’t let me back on.”
That was probably the only downside of the entire trip as Riddle also enjoyed the Irish’s win over the Demon Deacons.
“I thought Notre Dame played really good,” he said. “When they passed, it was really effective. I like how they did the zone read where the quarterback can keep it. Also, he had the chance to throw a lot.”
Riddle said he “definitely” plans on returning to Notre Dame down the road.
“That’s a beautiful campus. I want to see more of it.”