Memorial defensive standout Michael Riles ready to shine in spotlight of 2023 season and college recruitment

Published 12:18 am Friday, August 25, 2023

Memorial defensive end Michael Riles doesn’t mind a little attention. In fact, he thrives in the spotlight.

That is a good thing because colleges have been looking at 6’5”, 235-pound junior. After a solid sophomore season, Riles received scholarship offers from USC, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU and nearly a dozen more.

“I know everyone is gunning for me,” Riles said. “I like that. I like when people come at me and try to make me better. That is just me.”

Michael Riles takes a break during practice this week for the Memorial Titans. (Chris Moore/The News)

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Memorial head coach Brian Morgan said Riles is dynamic and really enjoys playing football.

“He really understands playing the run and rushing the passer,” according to Morgan. “A lot of elite defensive ends don’t really understand that at a young age, but he plays the run well. He is hard to block. He has an elite first step.”

Riles said that love comes from one desire that every good defensive player must have.

“I like chasing people,” he said. “As soon as I am off the ball, I find the running back if he has it. Last year, I had 25 tackles for loss. This year, I am going for 30. Last year, I had 10 sacks, and I am going for 16 this year. I just want to improve and show growth.”

Morgan said Riles is managing the recruiting process well.

The defensive end said he is electing not to worry about college offers during the season so he can focus on helping his team get back to the playoffs, where the Titans made quite the run in 2022 to the third round.

Seen adjusting his helmet during practice, Michael Riles says he wants to focus on his 2023 football season before attending to his college recruitment. (Chris Moore/The News)

“The guys who played on that team last year know what it takes to get back,” Riles said. “We have to be together. It can’t be fake. We have to stick together. If everyone is bonded into one, we are going to be a great team.”

The defense, which was tops in the district last season, has a chance to be elite with returners at key positions.

That defense will get a real test in Week 1 as the Titans take on a Port Neches-Groves team fresh off of a run to the state title game.

Riles said one of his most memorable hits came from last year’s contest against PNG.

“The (ball carrier) caught a screen and didn’t see me coming, and I lit him up,” Riles said with a big grin.

While it could be easy for many to start counting their Power 5 scholarship offers and coast through junior and senior seasons, Riles said he is not satisfied with his accomplishments.

“I’m not done yet,” Riles said. “I haven’t made it until I actually make it to college and do something.”

As the bright lights of Friday night football start to shine down on him and his teammates, the offers will continue to roll in. But there is little doubt he already has the full attention of opposing offensive coordinators and line coaches.