In 2004, the Western Michigan Broncos went 1-10. After dropping the first two games of the 2005 season, their losing streak reached 12. Luckily for the Broncos, senior running back Trovon Riley returned for the third game of the 2005 season after missing the first two. Thirty carries, nine catches, 234 total yards and a touchdown later, Riley had practically single handedly ended Western Michigan’s 12-game losing streak, leading the Broncos to a 34-28 victory over Southern Illinois.
The Broncos finished the 2005 season 7-4, quite a turnaround from their 1-10 season the year before. Riley’s determined and consistent running was a big reason for this. He finished with 1,010 yards rushing; a career high, during the nine games he played and averaged 4.6 yards a carry. Riley ran the ball 24.5 times a game and was the first Western Michigan running back to break 1,000 yards rushing since 2002.
About 13 scouts were on hand for Western Michigan’s Pro Day on March 7, which proved challenging for Riley because he was the only player participating in all of the drills. He reflected on his career and shared his aspirations in this interview.
What do you attribute your success to at Western Michigan?
TR: This last year I would
attribute that to my coaches. The
past years it had been difficult going up the mountain with different coaching
changes here. This year we were
able to put together a coaching staff that really helped out the players.
How did you end up at Western Michigan?
TR: At the time, 1999-2000, they
were MAC West Champions. I also
liked the way they ran the single back formation.
Aside from that they were the only team that wanted me to play running
back. I was a cornerback/quarterback coming out of high school but could also
play running back so I came here.
You like running with it and being hit rather than hitting the ball
TR: I just developed a love for
it [playing running back] my senior year in high school.
I was a corner/quarterback in high school so my senior year I felt there
wasn’t anyone who could run the ball as well as me.
I decided to take that role and ever since I’ve just had a love for it.
I noticed on your bio you were voted the “levitated leader.”
Tell us a little bit about that award…
TR: In tough situations my
teammates feel that I’m the guy that will say something or take action to
uplift the team when it’s needed.
You seem like a very dedicated and focused individual.
Is that a fair assessment?
TR: That’s fair.
I’ve been playing the game since I was 7-years old.
One thing I know about the game is that attention to detail is very
important to how you perform on the field.
That’s a trait I posses, attention to detail.
How would you characterize your attitude out on the football field?
TR: I’m selfish in a way, but
I’m a team player in the same sense. I’m
a team player in the sense that I’ll go out there and sacrifice my body to
block linebacker, cut defensive ends, run up the middle and deal with the
trenches when opponents have seven or nine man fronts.
Whatever you throw at me I’m ready to deal with.
I’m selfish in a way because I’m that person late in the game who
really wants the ball in their hands. I
feel that with the ball in my hands I’ll make the team better.
How are you as a short yardage back?
Is that one of your strengths in terms of goal line situations and third-and-ones?
TR: I’m very attentive to
short yardage situations. They are
different from any other run play. On 1st and 10 the goal is maybe to get half of
that whether it be 4 or 5 yards. You
have a chance to read defenses, whereas the third and short, you can’t
dilly-dally around. You need to get
what you have to get to move the chains. I’m very conscious of that.
If you don’t move the chains you don’t get the next possession.
How did you feel about your Pro Day?
TR: I was the only guy there as
a senior so all the drills were run back to back to back but I felt I did great.
I left everything out on the field and did my very best.
One thing my grandmother told me before she died is that “your very
best is all that counts.” I felt
I caught the ball well, could have done a little better on my 40-time but
agility wise I was off the line quick. I
felt it was good.
How many scouts were at your Pro Day?
TR: Probably 13.
Did you have any scouts come up and talk to you after the workout?
TR: I talked to the Bengals,
Jaguars and Cowboys scouts after it was all over.
Have any other teams made contact with you?
TR: The Raiders, Bears and
If you had to summarize your strengths to an NFL club what is it you
would tell them?
TR: I have
great vision; I know where I need to be and when I need to be there.
It something that you can’t teach, I’ve just always had it.
I am also very attentive to detail –the ability to be a student of the
game. I’m willing to learn, I’m willing to listen.
Another quality I would say I possess is that I’m very coachable.
I’m not argumentative, I’m for the team, I’ll take one for the team
and I’m a great guy to be around.