Riddick's college teammate saw potential from day one

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Theo Riddick

Allen Park -- A lot of NFL decisions makers missed on Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick, but Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith always believed his former Notre Dame teammate would make an impact in the NFL.

After a modestly productive career at Notre Dame, where he split his time between wide receiver and running back, Riddick was the 199th player selected in the 2013 draft, and it wasn't until his third season he really made a significant impact.

A lethal route runner out of backfield, and a nightmare to tackle in space, Riddick racked up 80 receptions for the Lions last season, a franchise record for the position. Smith remembers seeing those skills on the practice field at Notre Dame.

"I’ve always known the type of stuff he can do, not only running the ball, but also receiving out of the backfield," Smith said. "That’s something that I saw the first time we stepped onto the field. He would make moves on guys, you don’t know how he even saw them coming. He’s always had that in him, a real versatile guy, competitive dude. I’m happy to see the success he’s having, but definitely have to try to shut him down this week.”

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Riddick has missed two games with a high ankle sprain this year. In six contests, he's rushed for a team-high 227 yards on 61 carries and caught 34 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns. The Vikings have been tough against the run, only allowing opponents to gain 92.6 yards per game.

But they've been susceptible to giving up receptions out of the backfield. In seven games, Minnesota has allowed 34 receptions, 380 yards and two touchdowns to running backs.