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Riley Skinner Interview

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
The Truth Network Radio
June 11, 2020 4:42 pm

Riley Skinner Interview

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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All week this week, Wake Forest Athletics has been rolling out its Hall of Fame inductees for the 2020 class. I don't know if they're gonna have a ceremony this year because of everything that's happening around us.

So maybe it might happen in 2021, but I think we're still gonna call them the 2020 class. Diane Daley from the women's golf program was the first one announced. Mike Bingham from track and field. Sam Swank, who was announced earlier today. You might remember him. He had three 50-yard field goals against NC State way back when. And one of his teammates, who now joins us, quarterback Riley Skinner, an inductee into the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame.

Riley, the times appreciated as always. What's crazier, being inducted into the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame or realizing at 33 years old that you're old enough now to get into a sport? That's a great question.

First time somebody's asked me that. And I think the latter part to me is wild to think when you hear Hall of Fame, you typically think athletes that have been out for a long time. And I feel like I've I just got out last year.

And then looking back, I think it's been over 10 years since I've played it down a football. I'm very humbled and grateful to be able to be a part of it. I'm grateful to first year being eligible to be in the Hall of Fame to get the induction. The huge surprise when I got a Zoom call from John Curry that it was funny. He told me he wanted to talk with me and get my perspective on COVID-19 and how it's going to affect Wake Forest Sports and what the landscape is going to look like.

I thought to myself, how on earth am I going to answer this for 15, 20 minute call with them? And luckily, that was just a nice little cover up for a surprise to let me know I was in the Hall of Fame. It was a special day, May 20th. I'll never forget. He completely duped you. He did.

We started talking for a couple of minutes about life, golf, where he was, what he's been doing. And the next thing you know, four or five people started popping into the call, which ended up being the Hall of Fame committee. It was a pretty special time. Hold up a minute. I'd like to picture Riley Skinner writing down on a notepad all these ways.

Hey, these are some ways you can react to COVID-19 and all these things. And then realizing that, man, I just put in this work to help you out. Oh, I'm getting into the Hall of Fame. Is that about right? That's about right. I kept thinking what I would say when he asked, how do you think the players should be dealing with this and things they can be doing in the time they're by themselves on campus?

I had all these great ideas that never get discussed. That's incredible. Riley Skinner with us here. Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame inductee announced this week. Take me back, though, to when you first arrived at Wake Forest. What do you remember about what Jim Grove's pitch was that resonated with you?

Because after three consecutive losing seasons heading into 06, it wasn't a lot of winning he was selling. There wasn't. For me, it was pretty wild. And this makes me think even more how crazy this whole story is, because I didn't have another Division I scholarship. I had a half scholarship to a DII school, and Wake ended up offering me eight days before signing day. And so he didn't have to pitch me a lot. I was already just thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to play football after high school. And so when I got that offer, I was the hook, line and sinker. I had already visited the campus before, loved it, and loved Coach Grove's personality, the way he cared about you as a person, his philosophy on redshirting and slowly developing players to where he wants them to peak their redshirt junior and senior season.

So I like that about it. When I got on campus, though, I came from a high school in Jacksonville that I lost twice in my four years playing high school football. So winning was a common thing. And we went, I think we went four and seven my redshirt year, swatching from the sidelines.

So it was a tough thing to really grasp that this was a reality now. We were picked last in the ACC going into my redshirt freshman season. And Coach Grove, to his credit, always stuck the course. He always preached the same thing about cohesiveness, playing for the guy beside you, being patient and not being stat guys, being team guys.

And that first year was the ultimate reflection on his philosophy when you lose your starting quarterback, you lose two of your starting running backs, you have a receiver move from receiver to running back to be your starting guy for the last five games of the season. And that's what we were. We were a unit. We were a team that played well together and resulted in some positive things. Yeah, cohesiveness. It's an important thing.

And there are all those things you mentioned. You need that in order to be a competitive team. But there's a difference between being competitive and doing something nobody else has done. And that's winning an ACC football championship. When did you know that winning an ACC title was possible at Wake Forest? I think it was after our game at Florida State. We had lost one game and that was the Clemson up at that point. And that Clemson game we lost, we really should have won. We were winning and we were about to go up 23 on them.

Had a field goal blocked. They ran it back for a touchdown and then they strung together a late fourth quarter win. But then we won a few games after that and then went down to Florida State at Florida State in a prime time setting and beat them 30 to nothing. And after that, I think it all clicked for everybody that we could do something special here. That we had a team that was capable of getting to the ACC championship. So to me, it was after that win and the way in which we won gave everybody on that team a crazy amount of confidence that we could do something special. Much like Coach Grove, it took a couple of years for Dave Clawson to get it fired up at Wake Forest and now he's going to bowl games every single year it seems like.

What impresses you the most watching from afar? What Clawson has built succeeding your coach, Coach Grove? Yeah, I think two things. One, like Coach Grove, Coach Clawson has stuck to his philosophy. He had an offensive philosophy and a defensive philosophy. Mainly offensive that worked everywhere he had been at smaller schools leading up to that point. And it took a couple of years, but after year three or four, they were winning conference championships at every respective school he was at.

And that's what he's done. The first few years were ugly. They weren't able to move the ball very much. It was a different looking offense, but he never wavered. And that has proven to be the recipe right now and we've got one of the more explosive offenses in the ACC. And the second thing that stands out to me is the confidence in which our guys play. It's a little bit of, you know, that combination of confidence, cockiness, swagger, however you want to call it, that we have been lacking for a number of years. And watching our guys on the field, they believe they can compete with anybody and everybody they step foot on the field with. So that from afar has been really fun to watch and I stay in connection with Coach Clawson.

I talked to him on Wednesday for about 45 minutes and so he's been very gracious to keep me, you know, infiltrated with the program and getting to know some of the players and the coaches. I love the path that Wake Forest football is on right now. Do I have it right that your wife is from the same hometown that you're from and also went to an ACC school that wasn't named Wake Forest? Yeah, we went to rival high schools, oddly enough, didn't know each other, graduated the same year.

She went to Clemson and her dad actually played for Clemson on the 81 National Championship team. And they are dying and that has not changed. They are still diehard Clemson fans. So I've got a little more orange and purple in my house that I like to have. But my kids know, my three little boys know, when they have the selection of black and gold, orange and purple, they're throwing on the black and gold.

Okay, I have two follow-ups here. Number one, how much could you tolerate the last few years as Clemson? I mean, they got it fired up in a way that very few have it, Dabo, Sweeney, what he's doing. It's been rough for Wake Forest the last few years during that game.

Do you sit there the entire time or is there a point where you have to step away? We've evolved as husband and wife during that game. And it's gotten to the point where I've become a little bit, I hate to say it, I've become a little bit in awe of watching what Dabo has done with that program. And their offense and how they, just how they show up on big time stages week in and week out.

So I will say more than I ever have, I am able to tolerate the Tigers, but never in my life do I want to see them whip up on the Deacs the way they have the last few years. Yeah, I want to wrap things up where we started and put a bow on it. Riley Skinner with us here, Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame inductee. You getting inducted to the Hall of Fame and you're talking about your three kids there. How cool is it going to be to be able to show people or show them specifically, hey, at one time what you were able to do and what you did be celebrated for your athletic career and be able to share that with them?

It's special. And my oldest is six years old now and he's starting to ask questions and get it and he likes to watch some old games we have. And it's one of the more prouder moments for me knowing that I worked my tail off with a good teammate and try to do all the little things right and to be able to try to parent and shepherd him in that direction.

Not to have to play football or anything, but, you know, what hard work, what determination, what being a good person and a good teammate, what that can bring you. And it's definitely one of the more special things of the father, especially with three boys now, to have them start to see and understand what we were able to do and listen to them sometimes, brag about it to their little buddies. It gives me a little chuckle inside. Riley, that's as cool as it gets, man.

I'm sure there's a lot of parents that can agree with, resonate with what you're saying right there. I just look forward to seeing you when you get down here for the Hall of Fame ceremony, hopefully before that, given everything that's going on right now. But appreciate the time in the meantime. Yeah, John, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate and look forward to hopefully seeing you up there whenever the ceremony is.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-12 01:13:25 / 2023-02-12 01:18:17 / 5

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