Warren graduate and former Illinois State offensive tackle Chris Riley has agreed to an undrafted free-agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals and will join the team for fall training camp when it reports today.
Riley, who is listed at 6 feet 5 and 315 pounds, entered the NFL Draft following his final season of eligibility at Illinois State in 2010 and is expected to move to guard with the Bengals. During the off-season, Riley attended several pro day workouts and spent time working out with former ISU and current Cincinnati teammate Tom Nelson.
After not speaking directly with the Bengals throughout the workout process, Riley was a bit surprised to get the call from Cincinnati.
"I worked out at a pro day at Northwestern and they were one of the teams there looking at prospects," Riley said in a news release by ISU. "I never spoke with them directly, so I was a bit surprised when they called and invited me to Cincinnati to come to training camp. I've been working out and training hard during the lockout and was hoping to get an opportunity to play in the NFL this season, and I am grateful to the Bengals organization for taking a chance on me."
Riley started the final 27 games of his career on the offensive line for Illinois State from 2008-10. The Wadsworth native started all 11 games at right tackle for the Redbirds in 2010 and helped bolster a unit that helped ISU post 4,279 yards on the season, the eighth-best single-season mark in school history. ISU was also the second-best passing offense in the Missouri Valley Football Conference last season.
In 2009, he started all 11 games at left tackle and was a vital part of the leading passing offense in the conference at 246.4 yards per game.
Riley was a two-way starting lineman for Warren during his senior year in 2005 and earned Daily Herald All-Area honors. He gained 55 pounds during his career at ISU.
Illinois State head coach Brock Spack is proud of his former standout lineman and hopes he can fulfill his dream of playing football at the professional level.
"When we got here, we knew we had a very big, athletic tackle in Chris," Spack said. "What we wanted to see is if he could become a more physical and stronger player, to add to his athleticism. He worked very hard in the offseason to get bigger and stronger in the weight room and worked on his technique with our offensive line coach George Barnett. That showed in his improvement last year and because of that, NFL scouts took notice. We are very proud of him and wish him the best of luck in camp with the Bengals."
Riley knows there is a lot of work left to be done, but is ready to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a professional football player.
"I'm very excited to get going and having Tom there to help me through the process will be awesome," Riley said. "I've dreamt of being a professional football player since I was a kid and now I have the chance to realize that dream. Getting that call shocked me, but at the same time I know this is what I've been working hard for and I am ready to go."