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February 28, 2007

South Dakota's Reiff finds himself in rare company

PARKSTON, S.D. - Major Division I football prospects are a rarity in the state of South Dakota.

The last time a high school prospect in South Dakota signed a Division I-A letter of intent was back in 2004.

As the 2008 recruiting class starts to come to fold, it's already clear that the D-I drought in South Dakota should come to end.

6-foot-6, 235 pound Parkston (S.D.) defensive end Riley Reiff has held an Iowa offer since Oct. 1 and he was just recently named to the Rivals.com 250 prospects to watch list for the class of 2008 earlier this month.

One Division I assistant coach that knows the state arguably better than anybody described Reiff as the best prospect he's seen come of out South Dakota in the last several of years.

The coach said Reiff has all the "bells" and "whistles" teams are looking for, so don't be surprised if you see multiple Big 10 and Big 12 schools follow Iowa's early lead.

"My theory is teams come out to this area to try to find a diamond in the rough," Parkston head coach Jon Mitchell said. "When you look at Riley, that's exactly what he is."

Coincidentally, Iowa was also the team that ventured to nearby Mount Vernon, S.D. and took a chance by offering linebacker Chad Greenway back in 2001.

At the time, Greenway was a player few people knew about on the Division I recruiting scene, but the 6-foot-3 linebacker left Iowa City as a two-time All-American and was the No. 17 overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2006 NFL Draft.

When you stack up Reiff's early high school résumé, it's hard to find a prospect in South Dakota that's accomplished what he already has at this stage in the game.

Reiff was a first-team All-State selection in football as a sophomore and junior and he's a three-time state champion wrestler at the 215 (2005 & 2006) and 285 (2007) pound weight classes. Reiff also throws the discus in track and qualified for the state meet as a sophomore in his first ever year of the sport.

This past weekend, Reiff helped Parkston take home the Class B team title at the South Dakota state wrestling tournament by winning the 285 pound weight class, wrapping up a perfect 32-0 season on the mat. Over his three-year high school wrestling career, Reiff has compiled a 112-1 record and the past two years he hasn't allowed a single take down.

"Wrestling helps me out a ton," Reiff said. "I believe the best wrestlers are going to be good football players too. It really works your hips and makes you stronger and gets your body in shape."

Reiff has never been timed in the 40 yard dash or been tested in the vertical before, but he possesses an impressive 300 pound bench press and a 6-foot-6 frame that has plenty of room for more growth.

Besides Iowa, Reiff said Nebraska, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas State, Illinois and Purdue have all shown early interest in him so far.

On Tuesday alone, Mitchell talked with coaches from both NU and ND and he said the phone calls and mail continue to pour in.

"Physically he is a real specimen," Mitchell said. "This is a true 6-foot-6, 235 pound kid that has a great work ethic and he's strong and that shows in the weight room.

"The other thing I tell people about Riley is he has great heart. He has great heart and he knows how tough this is going to be. Going to the next level, he knows there is a lot of guys his size, but I think he has what it takes to be real successful because of his heart."

A player Reiff likes to mould himself after on the football field is former Oklahoma defensive end and current Baltimore Raven Dan Cody. Reiff said he used to love watching Cody's motor run and that's how he tries to play when he steps on the field.

"I just liked the way (Cody) played the game and that's how I try to play," Reiff said. "I just play hard and I remember that from watching him play. He always gave 110 percent and he was always fired up on the field. That's the way I play too."

This spring, Reiff hopes to attend practices at both Nebraska and Iowa. Reiff said he's currently wide open with his recruiting plans, but he'd like to stay in either the Big 10 or Big 12 regions.

Growing up in South Dakota, Reiff said most people are Nebraska fans, but with Greenway's recent success at Iowa, several people have also become avid Hawkeye supporters.

"Right now I'm pretty wide open, "Reiff said. "But obviously Iowa offered first and they're on top until I get another offer. Since they're my only offer right now, they're going to be on top.

"Growing up though, I really liked Nebraska. I went to a Nebraska game in fifth grade and it was really cool down there and I really liked it. But besides them, I like the Big 10 and Big 12 schools. I always watched Iowa and Minnesota and I also like Oklahoma. I like all the schools in the Midwest area."


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