Riggs signs to play football at Western Oregon

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

With teammates and fellow students gathered around and his coach and parents at his side, Josh Riggs signed a letter of intent Wednesday, Feb. 4, to play football for Western Oregon University.

“It seemed right for me,” said Riggs, 18, noting that his mother graduated from WOU and that the school’s proximity to Sweet Home will allow his parents, Monte and Barbi Riggs, will be able to watch him play in college.

Riggs was one of 15 players who signed letters of intent to play for the Division II Wolves on Wednesday, the first day that recruits could sign per NCAA rules.

“Our emphasis is on local kids and this year it was also on linemen,” said head coach Arne Ferguson. “These are the biggest and most athletic kids that we have ever recruited. We felt like we signed some players today that will really help us.”

Other Val-Co players who signed with Western Oregon were first team all-state offensive lineman Marcus Cuellar (6-4, 285) and second team all-state wide receiver Eric Phillips (6-2, 190) of Central, and Newport quarterback Mark Moore (6-5, 205).

The Wolves already have four other players from Val-Co schools, junior linebacker JT Gilmore of Taft, redshirt linebackers Kameron Ross and Loren Lynch of Newport, and sophomore defensive lineman Justin Cuellar of Central.

Riggs is one of two tight ends signed by the Wolves Wednesday. The other is Bill Thompson (6-4, 200) of Mountain View. The team has five tight ends listed on its 2009 roster, three of them seniors.

Riggs, a 6-1, 240-pounder, is one of a few Huskies over Coach Rob Younger’s tenure to letter three times and make first team all-league three years in football.

“This is good,” Younger said. “This is an exciting day for Josh and his family.”

He told the crowd that Riggs’ achievement came after planning and effort.

“He worked extremely hard to get to this point, to sign a letter of intent,” Younger said. “Josh and I talked a few years ago about what it was going to take. He fulfilled that.”

Riggs said he got “12 or 13” calls and contacts from various schools, including Whitworth College in Spokane, where Huskies alum Brandon Martin is playing.

He said he plans to major in fish and wildlife biology, perhaps transferring to Oregon State University after he finishes with football.

In three years on the varsity, Riggs caught 64 passes for 824 yards, which ranks him third in career receiving for the Huskies, behind Harmon Costa and Nathan Aman, Younger said. Riggs, who missed several games as a senior because of an ankle injury, still caught 25 passes for 323 yards. As a junior he had 22 catches for 276 yards and he caught 17 balls for 225 yards as a sophomore.

“I love tight end,” he said. “It’s my favorite position. You pretty much have to be an athlete. You have to know blocking schemes as well as passing schemes. You have to be quick as well as big.”

Riggs thanked Younger, his parents and his teammates for helping him get to signing day.

He also said he appreciated the hoopla, which included snacks for the students during the break time in which the signing ceremony was held.

“I thought I’d sign in a cold room all by myself,” he said. “But you guys really turned this into a fantasy.”