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Uniquely-talented Tyson Riley’s game filled with versatility

Tyson Riley could line up as a single back in Army’s shotgun offense.

Riley could split out and play receiver or slide inside to tight end.

Many will know Riley as a featured fullback in the Black Knights’ flexbone.  Riley’s 95 carries were tops among Army running backs last season.

Fullbacks, by name, were eliminated in the Black Knights’ new offense implemented by coordinators Drew Thatcher and Matt Drinkall.

Whether Riley’s carries or opportunities increase or decrease this season, he’ll always put the team first.

“At the end of the day, football is football,” said Riley, who rushed for 441 yards (second on the team) in 2022. “So, I’m still taking the stuff that I worked with at B-back and implementing that into a more spread offense. I might not be in a 3-point stance. I might come from a 2-point stance but we run plays that I will have the same techniques. So, it’s not that much of a switch but there’s definitely nuances.”

Riley was recruited as a quarterback out of Springfield (Mo.) Catholic High School by Army and played that position at Army Prep. He saw a few snaps as tight end his freshman season (2020 pandemic year). Riley was Army’s opening game starter at fullback his sophomore season.

“I was an all-state safety my senior year,” said Riley of his high school career.

Riley credits his father, Ozzie, for his versatility. He was coached by his father, who was also a Springfield Catholic assistant, throughout his youth and prep time.

“I would point mostly to my on-field IQ,” Riley said. “I learned that from my dad. I would go in the summer when I was in middle school and work out with the (high school) team. That really helped my football IQ. I think with me playing a bunch of different positions also increased that.

“When I played quarterback, I pretty much had to know every position on the field and that’s helped me playing different positions.”

Matt Drinkall, Army’s co-offensive coordinator, paid Riley perhaps the ultimate praise.

“Maybe, the best compliment that you can give is that he could probably be a starter at almost every position on the whole field if he dedicated himself to it,” Drinkall said.

“Tyson is incredibly unique because it’s so hard to find somebody that is dynamic as he is5, period, but let alone a guy that is 6-foot-2 or 6-3 and 260 pounds.”

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