Staying home — Riddick flips to Auburn

Published 4:12 pm Thursday, July 27, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

July 26 has always been a special day in the Riddick family. It is Shakena Riddick’s birthday, mother of Chilton County High School’s Demarcus Riddick. The 26th of July will mean a bit more now after the linebacker announced his final commitment inside the CCHS auditorium with friends and family in attendance, and his mother by his side.

Riddick sat at the table behind three hats — Auburn University, the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia. Riddick spoke briefly about why he chose July 26, and then had his mother open her birthday gift.

An Auburn University hat.

“I am staying home,” Riddick said into the microphone to a roar from everyone inside the auditorium.

“My mom is the biggest part of my life, and I will love her for the rest of my life,” Riddick said. “My mom has always been there for me through the ups and downs, and everything. That is why I chose this day.”

Shakena Riddick said she had no idea where Riddick’s final decision would go, just that he was going to surprise her on her birthday.

“It is really great (to have him close to home), but it was not the distance that was going to be a problem,” Shakena Riddick said. “We went to all of his top three schools, and I wanted to get a connection with the coaches and everything. I felt like the great connection was with Auburn.”

Riddick is the No. 26 overall ranked recruit by 247Sports, and No. 41 overall by ESPN. Both outlets have him as the No. 3 linebacker recruit in the country. Riddick previously verbally committed to Georgia on Nov. 4 of last year, and Riddick said he and head coach Kirby Smart have had a great relationship throughout his recruiting process.

However, home came calling and Auburn was able to flip the recruit.

“At the end of the day, I just did not feel like Georgia was a great fit for me,” Riddick said. “I chose to stay home and stay close to home.”

Riddick said he enjoyed visiting Alabama and the time he spent with head coach Nick Saban, but he did not feel at home there like he did on the plains. 247Sports reported Riddick visited Auburn four times since the start of 2023, and the five-star recruit will attend Auburn’s Big Cat Weekend recruiting event on July 29.

“I chose Auburn because that is where I want to be for the next three to four years, and it feels like home being there,” Riddick said. “I love the coaches down there, and I am going to compete for a starting spot when I get there.”

Riddick said new Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze is a great coach and will flip the program back around, and he wants to be a part of the turnaround. He has spoken a bit to Auburn coaches about how they will utilize him in their system.

CCHS football head coach Marvin Morton said he thinks Riddick will fit right into Freeze’s system at Auburn due to his hard-working attitude and being a locker room guy.

“I wanted to be that person that would give him some advice if he needed some (through his process), and we talked several times, but I did not want to know where he was going,” Morton said. “I just wanted to offer genuine advice to him, and I truly believe he made the decision that is for him, a decision he feels great with. The whole week during workouts he has been the same old Demarcus, so I knew whichever school he was picking would be a good choice for him.”

Morton said Riddick is all about the team goals first going into his senior season, such as making the state playoffs, something Riddick has not done yet in his high school career, as well as elevating his teammates’ play around him.