Auburn hasn't had a linebacker as big as Cam Riley in nearly 20 years. And he's ready to turn it loose.
After growing two inches and putting on more than 20 pounds since his arrival, Cam Riley has been a can't-miss presence for the Tigers so far this preseason.
LB Cam Riley (Alex Keller/Auburn Athletics)
Look back through Auburn’s recent history at linebacker and see how long it takes before you get to a player of Cam Riley’s size — now standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing around 235 pounds.
Owen Pappoe is 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds. Zakoby McClain? 6-foot, 219 pounds. Chandler Wooten? 6-foot-3, 232. K.J. Britt was 243 pounds but an even 6 feet tall. Deshaun Davis was listed at 5-foot-11. Darrell Williams was 6-foot-2. Montavious Atkinson? 6-foot-1. Tre’ Williams was 6-2.
Here’s a speed run through the early Gus Malzahn era: Kris Frost (6-2), Cassanova McKinzy (6-3, 253), Justin Garrett (6-1, 238), Anthony Swain (6-2, 249) and Jake Holland (6-1, 240).
The Gene Chizik era had Daren Bates (sub-6-foot), Eltoro Freeman (also sub-6-foot), Josh Bynes (6-2, 235) and Craig Stevens (6-3, 229).
Still going, now to the Tommy Tuberville era: Chris Evans (sub-6-foot), Merrill Johnson (6-foot, 210), Will Herring (6-foot-4, 221), Karibi Dede (6-foot), Travis Williams (6-foot-1), Antarrious Williams (sub-6-foot), Mayo Sowell (6-2, 225) — and Karlos Dansby (6-foot-5, 235 pounds).
Before spending 14 years in the NFL, Karlos Dansby’s All-American senior season at Auburn came back in 2003. So, it’s almost been two whole decades since Auburn had a linebacker the size of Riley.
And the big junior from the small town of Evergreen, Ala. (population: 3,944) is feeling it.
“I feel more beefy,” Riley said late last week. “I'm able to sock O-linemen as hard as I can. I just feel good. I feel different, too. I feel bigger.”
Riley wasn’t always a gigantic inside linebacker, though. He arrived at Auburn in the class of 2020 at 6-foot-3 and just 205 pounds. And when defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding and head coach Bryan Harsin inherited Riley from the Gus Malzahn staff last year, he wasn’t close to where he’s at now.
“If you look at Cam Riley from the time I walked in, until now — you’d barely recognize him,” Schmedding said.
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