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Seventh Heaven

Tyrone Riley ’18 provides an upperclassman’s perspective for NC State football. Like really upperclassman.

By Jack Daly ’01

There are a couple of tidbits to know about Tyrone Riley’s seven years as a player on NC State’s football team.

First, the extended time in Raleigh is the product of misfortune. The Savannah, Ga., native has broken both feet. He missed time with shoulder surgery and a torn bicep. He was slowed by a bout of pneumonia after moving from the defensive to offensive line in 2018.

Second, Riley wouldn’t still be with the Wolfpack if he weren’t skilled. “If the guy stays healthy, he’s an NFL player,” says John Garrison, NC State’s offensive line coach.

Of all the setbacks, Riley still rues the first broken foot in 2019. He was poised to be the starter at left tackle. But two days into practice, he got hurt during a routine drill. “That moment was so heartbreaking,” Riley says.

  • 2015: Redshirted
  • 2016: Freshman, tore bicep
  • 2017: Sophomore, had shoulder surgery
  • 2018: Junior, switched from defensive to offensive line, had pneumonia in preseason
  • 2019: Broke right foot in preseason practice, NCAA granted extra year of eligibility
  • 2020: Started four games, then broke left foot, didn’t count against eligibility because of pandemic
  • 2021: Seventh year with the team. Hope springs eternal.

The NCAA granted Riley an extra year of eligibility in 2020, but then the pandemic struck. When football resumed in the fall, Riley started four games before breaking his left foot. Because of the pandemic, the NCAA didn’t count 2020 against athletes’ eligibility, so Riley had a chance for one more season. He wrestled with the decision before deciding to return.

After earning an undergraduate degree in sports management, he expects to complete his master’s degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management in December.

On the field, the primary goal is making it through the year unscathed. “My journey has just been crazy,” Riley says. “It would mean a lot to me to finish out this season the right way.”

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