Seems like there are a lot of hints out there about Theo Riddick moving to slot receiver this upcoming year. Not sure how I feel about this move. Even though it looks like we have a lot of depth at running back, wouldn't a position change for Riddick make us a bit thin and inexperienced at running back after 2010? Here’s where we are at with the depth chart right now:
Armando Allen – senior
Robert Hughes – senior
Jonas Gray – junior
Theo Riddick - sophomore
Cierre Wood – sophomore
Cameron Roberson – freshman
Allen and Hughes are gone after this year (amazing how quickly their careers have flown by), and Gray only has two years left going into this year. If Riddick moves to WR, I guess we’re going to be relying on some combination of Gray, Wood, and Roberson going into 2011. I know Coach Kelly is high on both Roberson and Wood, but are they as good as Riddick?? I was really impressed with Riddick’s explosiveness and tenacity this year, and always viewed him as the heir apparent at running back after Armando Allen leaves. He put some moves on guys last year that we haven’t seen out of an ND running back since the Julius Jones days. Can we go into 2011 looking at Wood as the possible feature back??
Does Kelly view Riddick as too skinny to be a feature back?? He's only 195 pounds and did have some fumbling problems this year, so maybe that has something to do with it. But that’s a typical problem for a freshman, and something that you would think he would grow out of as he gets more experienced in college football.
Maybe Kelly views Riddick as the most explosive player on the roster and wants to get him into that coveted slot receiver spot that became the focal point for his offenses at Cincinnati. Mardy Gilyard was always getting the ball on little bubble screens and slant routes, and I think Kelly values a guy who can catch the ball in space, make one move, and explode. If we’re going to be a “big chunk” team that thrives on big plays, someone is going to have to show the ability to catch a 5 yard pass and turn it into a 40 yard gain. Kelly might view Riddick as that guy. As I think more about it, it makes sense to me because Riddick seems to be more explosive than the other rumored guy for that spot, Shaq Evans. Even though I like Evans, he is not as athletic as I thought he would be. Maybe I'm just spoiled comparing him to Tate and Floyd, but I view Evans as more of a possession guy at this point.
The other thing is that Kelly seems to be really impressed with what he has in Roberson and Cierre Wood. We all heard what Kelly had to say about Cam Roberson in his press conference on signing day, and Kelly has hinted that Wood is about to burst onto the scene this year at the running back position. Wood was a top 50ish recruit coming out of high school. Maybe Kelly likes that Wood is 225 pounds and might be able to take more of a pounding running between the tackles. Sort of funny because I always viewed Cierre Wood as the guy who would end up switching to receiver or safety, and now it looks like Riddick might end up moving elsewhere.
Should be an interesting development if this happens. I have mixed feelings because we’ve seen the promise Riddick showed at running back, but it may end up being a move that benefits the team. Kelly is a guy who is not afraid to make personnel changes if he feels that it will benefit the team and helps us win. If he thinks this team would benefit from Riddick moving to receiver and Wood/Roberson taking over at RB someday, I can get behind it.