COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Colerain football coach Tom Bolden’s biggest challenge this spring might be to keep his desk organized on a daily basis.
That’s because 115 college coaches have visited his office the past six weeks regarding some of the Cardinals’ top players.
Manila folders and camp brochures are stacked on the front side of his desk. He hastily brushes aside some papers for some elbow room for a conversation last week.
It seems every college coach either wants information or is willing to give its sales pitch to Bolden and his highly ranked team this fall.
Senior-to-be cornerback Amir Riep is at the forefront of that spotlight.
The all-city standout has 47 scholarship offers as the school year comes to a close this week. The fortunate part is he’s enjoying every minute of it.
“I think he’s done a great job,” Bolden said. “When you think about it, here is a kid that is 17 years old with close to 50 offers. It’s got to be kind of intoxicating in a way as a kid who is being inundated with attention.”
Honestly, Bolden will be happy when the process is completed. Don’t get the 10th year coach wrong. The attention is flattering. When the University of Southern California hops on a plane to visit Colerain and other area recruits, very few players receive that spotlight.
Riep has already qualified for the prestigious Nike event “The Opening,” an elite combine for 166 top recruits across the country July 7-10 in Beaverton, Oregon. He’s also a nominee for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and would seem to be an early favorite for selection.
Riep, who is 6 feet and 185 pounds, was second-team all-state, first-team all-district and the Greater Miami Conference defensive player of the year in 2015. He had 53 tackles and seven interceptions for the Cardinals (12-2), who were the Division I regional runner-up a year ago.
He has offers that include UC, Ohio State, Oregon, Alabama, Auburn, Michigan State, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Duke, Nebraska, UCLA, Florida State and many others. You get the idea.
“His football IQ is tremendous,” Bolden said. “He’s a great student. He has a nose for the football. He knows how to line up and he knows how to bait teams into certain things.”
Colerain has had plenty of other players being recruited, but Riep, who transferred from Roger Bacon after his freshman year, has garnered more offers than anyone else in recent memory on Cheviot Road.
Wherever Riep lands on a college campus, he has an opportunity to play right away as a freshman, Bolden said.
“He’s the guy that can play a shutdown physical corner who can also play safety,” Bolden said. “…He’s definitely a presence that they've got to gameplan for.”
Even though football players may verbally commit to a college program at any time, the recruiting journey doesn’t officially end until National Signing Day in February 2017.
The texts, phone calls and visits – and let’s be frank, the gray hairs – may be a temporary nuisance for Bolden, who enters this season with a career record of 96-16. However, it’s a good problem to have though he teaches three classes day.
“If we didn’t have any coaches in, that means we are getting our butt kicked,” Bolden deadpanned.
Riep hasn’t narrowed his list – at least not yet publicly. But, after nearly a dozen visits the plan is to possibly make a decision on his 18th birthday July 23.
“I’m just enjoying (the recruiting process),” Riep said. “…I am letting it play out right now and I will figure it out more in the summer.”
He’s leaned on his father, Maurice, and the Colerain coaches in terms of finding what school could be the best fit. They’ve told Riep to go where he feels the most comfortable – and not rely on what others think.
Riep is a typical teenager. He likes to hang out with his friends and plays pickup basketball. He likes to watch highlights of NFL stars Richard Sherman and Tyrann Mathieu. He just happens to also be one of the most sought-after players in the country.
Mark Porter, director of ScoutingOhio.com, says the numerous college programs like Riep’s size and versatility in the defensive backfield. He’s also Colerain’s kick and punt returner.
Colerain defensive backs coach Phill Joseph said Riep’s physical nature, good length and good footwork lend themselves well to playing at a high level. He’s not afraid to make tackles and has a nose for the ball.
“When he’s on a football field he’s focused and locked in,” Joseph said. “He gets after it and gets things done. It’s really fun to watch and fun to coach.”