Notebook: Returning Riley sparks defense

Elijah Riley was credited with three tackles in his season debut against Air Force last Saturday.

Riley’s impact for Army’s defense couldn’t be measured by statistics.

The sophomore cornerback brought a physical presence on the edge, denying Air Force big play on the edge multiple times.

Riley was admittedly nervous before his first game since the 2016 Heart of Dallas Bowl, where he had two interceptions on Dec. 27.

“It was my first game of the season,” Riley said. “It was a little nerve-wracking. But when I stepped onto the field, it just became another game. I was even more amped up playing against Air Force.

Riley said he had a lot of energy “bottled up” after sitting out Army’s first eight games due to an academy matter. He practiced every game week, waiting for his clearance. Nobody treated him differently, players or coaches, Riley said.

“I knew I had to be harder on myself,” said Riley, who started 11 games and was Army’s sixth-leading tackler (47) last season. “I treated it like it was the offseason but still being ready for every game. There was a lot of time spent in the weight room trying to blow off some steam.”

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    Sal Interdonato

    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full
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