If you had any doubt that Lake Mary, Fla., linebacker Keith Rivers was the nation’s top linebacker recruit and possibly the top recruit in the Sunshine State in the Class off 2004, that shred of doubt will probably be erased after hearing this story.
You see, instead of having assistant coaches recruit him from some of his top schools, Rivers, all 6-foot-4 and 213 pounds of him, is being personally recruited by several big-name head coaches.
This includes Miami coach Larry Coker and USC coach Pete Carroll.
And it was Carroll and the Trojans that made quite an impression on the future five-star player on May 1 – the first day that colleges can call during the spring evaluation period.
“USC called me at midnight on May 1,” Rivers said with a chuckle. “They informed me through my coach and let me know that they were calling, so I was waiting for it. They checked with my dad, too, to see if it was Ok if they called that late.
“I really think that by calling first and right at midnight that it made me feel really special. I was impressed by that.”
Also making him feel special has been Miami, the other top team on his list. Rivers said he’s had some great conversations with Coker and the rest of the Cane staff. He said he regularly calls both USC and Miami one or twice every few weeks to check in and see how things are going.
“USC is still pretty much up there,” he said. “USC and Miami are the highest. I give them calls all the time just to talk. I talk to coach Coker or to coach Carroll when I call. It’s kind of cool to call and have the head coach find time to talk to you.”
For the longest time, it looked like Florida State wouldn’t even get a whiff from Rivers, but he said after talking with new Seminole defensive coordinator and former Baylor coach Kevin Steele on the phone in early May, that things have changed.
“I had a great conversation with him,” Rivers said. “I wasn’t really thinking about Florida State, too much, but now I’m definitely interested. Coach Steele talked about playing time and how I could contribute early. He also said that he knows what it takes to get you to the NFL and that I really fit their style of linebacker.”
But don’t expect Rivers to make any kind of decision soon. Along with those three teams, other squads like Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and countless others are fighting hard to potentially get an official visit.
“I get about three calls a night from the college coaches,” Rivers said. “It’s not been too bad. Well, I guess that depends on the school. They’re all pretty good and fun to talk to for the most part, but I think it’s obvious that I’m not in any kind of rush to make a decision.”