Track behind him, Riggs looks to Florida

WINTER PARK – It was a bittersweet end to the track and field career of Class of 2010 Florida football signee Cody Riggs.

One of the top athletes in the state of Florida, the 5-9, 175-pound Riggs failed to qualify for the finals in the 110-meter high hurdles, but he did run a personal best time in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles to win that competition and ultimately help lead St. Thomas Aquinas of Fort Lauderdale to the FHSAA Class 4A boys’ state championship on Saturday.

All in all, it was mission accomplished for Riggs and his teammates.

“I was really down on myself—I felt like I let the team down,” Riggs said of his shocking misstep in the 110 hurdles preliminaries that caused him not to finish his prelim. “That was 6-10 points we lost because of it.”

Riggs had to shake off the disappointment and he did, coming back to run the best race of his high school career to win the 300 intermediate hurdles in a time of 36.44 seconds at Showalter Field.

“It was the fastest time of my career, and I was definitely happy with it,” he said.

With a fantastic high school career behind him, Riggs is ready to get to the University of Florida and resume his career on the gridiron.

“I’m ready to put on some weight on,” Riggs said. “Get back on the field, get in my cleats and get up to Gainesville on June 20.”

It hasn’t been easy this spring, as Riggs followed the progress of fellow 2010 cornerback signees Joshua Shaw and Jaylen Watkins, both of whom enrolled at Florida in January. Both players earned rave reviews for their play this spring, and Riggs hopes to play up to the same level when he reports in the summer.

“I wanted to be up there,” he admitted on the track. “But it’s a great competition. Jaylen (Watkins) and Josh (Shaw) are doing a great job preparing themselves for the next level, and I hope to do the same when I get up there, too.”

With one of the biggest criticisms of Riggs being his size, it appears that is one issue that is being quietly put to rest over the course of the past few months. An injury (stress fracture in his left ankle) suffered by Riggs during the track and field season actually played to his advantage as it relates to his chances of getting on the field as a true freshman.

“I’ve actually gained weight during track season,” said Riggs, who said he currently weighs around 175 pounds (up from 160 at this time last year). “When I was off of my foot for five weeks, I put on a little weight.”

With the Florida coaches recruiting in the area, Riggs has had a chance to spend some time with his soon-to-be position coach at Florida in recent weeks.

“(Teryl Austin, Florida’s defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach) was at the school just a couple of days ago,” Riggs said. “I’ve also been talking with coach (Zach) Azzanni and coach (Chuck) Heater over the past few weeks.”

Overall, Riggs gives high marks to the new hires on the Florida coaching staff.

“I love them,” Riggs said of Austin and Azzanni. “I talk to them about everything. I feel like the Florida coaches didn’t miss a beat with those two coming in. I’m really comfortable with those guys.”

While the talented defensive back is moving on to the next level, there is no shortage of talent at St. Thomas Aquinas once again this fall. Riggs admits he hopes to convince a few of his teammates to join him in Gainesville for the summer of 2011.

“Oh, definitely! I’m talking to Phillip Dorsett, Rashad Greene, Bobby Hart and Marcus Roberson,” Riggs said of the St. Thomas Aquinas prospects Florida is recruiting. “I would love to see all of those guys up at Florida next year. Roberson is a heck of a player. He’s been under the radar because he didn’t play much as a junior, but he’s going to be a big-time player in college.”

Maybe as big as Cody Riggs hopes to be.