Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Archer defensive lineman Antonio Riles has committed to play for the University of Florida next season.
This is one of six features on the Daily Post's Super Six selections for high school football. To see all six athletes, click HERE.
THE RILES FILE
• Name: Antonio Riles
• School: Archer
• Class: Senior
• Position: Offensive/defensive lineman
• Height: 6-foot-4
• Weight: 273 pounds
• College choices: Committed to Florida
• Nickname: Tee
• Place of birth: Bainbridge
• Role model: Parents
• Favorite restaurant: Golden Corral
• Favorite store: Online shopping for his sizes
• Favorite teachers: Mr. Laskowski and Ms. Landress
• Favorite subject: Social Studies
• Text messages I send a month: 1,700
• Twitter handle: @Tee_Riles
• Superstitions: Won’t let people sweep over the tops of his feet
• Funniest teammate: Will Kone
• Life’s dream: “To be successful and be in a position to help my mother and grandmother and my family in Bainbridge.”
• Info file: Riles’ rise rode the wave of the Archer program. The lineman grew into his frame over his years just as Archer grew as a program. Riles was there last year when it took its first leap into the Class AAAAA playoffs and he returns this year with an eye on building on last year’s success.
• Coach Andy Dyer’s take: “His technique got better and better each ballgame last year. We are working on the little things. We expect him to have a tremendous year. He’s had a good camp, had a good summer. He’s working hard at the things he knows he needs to work at.”
LAWRENCEVILLE -- When Antonio Riles moved to Gwinnett County, Archer High School wasn't a glint in the county's eye.
He was 8 and joined the Gwinnett Football League as a Lilburn Patriot. Tall, but not yet big, Riles lined up as wide receiver.
"I was pretty good," he remembers. "I was tall back then. It was real fun."
And as the county kept growing, so did Riles. As new schools opened, Riles went from receiver to tight end and eventually to lineman. By the time high school came, Riles was headed for upstart Archer. He's been there through the first steps and helped the program to its first leap when the Tigers found their way into the Class AAAAA state playoffs for the first time last season. When they landed, North Gwinnett was there to welcome them with a 49-3 loss.
"It was a big reality check, really. It was no joke," Riles said of that first playoff game. "North Gwinnett wasn't playing. It was a real humbling experience."
Riles watched the program's early leaders graduate and ascended to the role of senior himself. Quiet, Riles doesn't need a big voice to be followed. The 6-foot-4, 273-pound defensive lineman grabs attention just walking into a room without pads. Then he plays. He played his way to Division I interest, committing to Florida.
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Even as young as the program is, Archer has sent plenty of players to college. But Riles represents a leap into elite-level programs.
"We're very fortunate. That's a total credit to those kids," head coach Andy Dyer said. "To us as a program, just trying to do things the right way. Opportunities pop up when you take care of your business."
And with the Florida commitment in place, Riles' attention is on the business at Archer.
First, there's his business.
"I am not designed to make plays, but I am just trying to do my job," Riles said. "I am trying to get better at pass rushing. I use the traditional bull rush, but I am trying to be more versatile and get in more condition so I can stay on both sides of the field and have a lot of energy."
Then there's the team's business.
"As leaders we expect to do a lot to build the team," he said. "You look forward to improving every single year so Archer can be a great program. Everybody is going to have to set the standard the next year after them so it can only get better. We don't want to be the downfall."
In the work, Riles finds the fun. He tries to make the practices enjoyable and effective and is trying to enjoy his final high school year. Outside of football, Riles said he's going to try basketball one more time. He played years ago, but gave it up to chase his football dream. With the dream intact, he's after some fun.
"I just want to play some ball," Riles said. "It's my last year. I used to be good when I was playing. It was getting real fast. But I just stopped playing."
Football grew on him as he grew into it. He remembers scoring a touchdown during his wide receiver days, but, as it goes for lineman, he found a new personal scoring system.
"I scored like the only touchdown, but I guess a sack is like a touchdown," Riles said.
His coach's plan is more ambitious.
"Sack and a touchdown, that's even better," Dyer said.