Shawn Riley, a senior safety at Trinity Episcopal, last week announced his commitment to play college football at Columbia University.
Riley initially entered the Titans program as a quarterback, on the heels of Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state titles in 2014 and 2015. Trinity head coach Sam Mickens said Riley made it his mission to "restore the program" to that same level of excellence after it "took a step back" during Riley's first couple seasons.
"Shawn went from a 150-pound kid to a 6-foot-4, 215-pound man," Mickens said. "Tremendous student, 4.5 GPA. ... To go be able to play in the Ivys, and to play at Columbia, they really wanted him, it's going to be a great opportunity. You just don't find that every day where kids get an opportunity to go Ivy."
Mickens said Riley visited Yale and Princeton and only considered elite academic institutions to continue his education and football career. In addition to quarterback and safety, Riley played multiple positions for the Titans, including receiver and tight end.
Mickens said Riley's versatility renders him invaluable to college programs, and he sees him coming down into the box to fill a hybrid linebacker role at the next level.
"He's a very consistent, steady, firm presence in the locker room, very much a coach's guy, a gritty kid," Mickens said.
"I've had teams ask me, 'Do you think he can play here or there?' My answer was always yes. ... When you have that type of determination and work ethic, things tend to work out for those people."