As Jeff Tedford remembers it, he was attending a scouting combine for high school football players in the Bay Area in the spring of 2005, back when college coaches were allowed to be present at such functions, and noticed a quarterback throwing the ball in warm-ups. The Cal football coach didn’t know the kid but liked the “zip on the ball” when he threw. Intrigued, Tedford watched the young quarterback throughout the day, and “kind of liked everything about him.” Tedford followed up by getting some video of the quarterback, still a high school junior, and after studying that “liked him even more.”
And so, in Tedford’s memory, that was the beginning of the process that led to Kevin Riley going from Beaverton High School in Oregon to play football at Cal, where, as a junior, Riley leads the Pac-10 in passing efficiency and ranks No. 6 in the nation, which happens to be the national ranking of the Golden Bears, who play Oregon in Autzen Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Except, it’s not quite the whole story.
It seems that Riley had spotted Tedford standing under a tree with Fresno State coach Pat Hill. Of the 200-some coaches at the combine, Tedford and Hill were the first coaches that he recognized. So Riley, not generating much recruiting interest at that time — Eastern Washington, Idaho, Portland State; Oregon hadn’t even invited him to its annual Junior Day — grabbed a receiver and positioned himself directly in front of Tedford.