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Theo Riddick

Sport: Football

Born: May 4, 1991

Town: Manville

Theo Riddick was born May 4, 1991 in Somerville and grew up in Manville. Sturdily built with great speed, anticipation and power, Theo was a game-changer in youth football and quickly became the star of the Immaculata High School varsity after enrolling in 2005. He played running back, receiver and defensive back for Pierce Frauenheim’s Spartans, and led the team to a state title as a sophomore in 2006. Theo ran for 217 yards and scored three times in the championship game, and made an interception in the end zone to preserve Immaculata’s immaculate 12–0 record.

Theo earned All-State honors as a junior and senior and was regarded as one of the top multi-purpose backs in the nation. Pitt, Penn State and Rutgers recruited him aggressively, but he accepted a scholarship from Notre Dame. He played sparingly as a freshman but earned an expanded role as a sophomore under new coach Brian Kelly in 2010. He caught 40 passes on the year, including 10 in a win over Michigan State. By his senior season, Theo had made the transition back to running back. He rushed for 917 yard in 2012 and caught 36 passes for another 370 yards.

Theo was the 199th pick in the 2013 draft, by the Detroit Lions. As a rookie, he played on the return teams, and also served as a slot receiver and pass-catching back. At 5’9 he was undersized by NFL standards, but he excelled as a role player for Detroit, showing glimpses that he might become a Darren Sproles-like contributor.

In 2014, Theo backed up Reggie Bush and caught 34 passes—including a lovely game-winning catch against the Dolphins. By season’s end, coach Jim Caldwell felt Theo was ready to assume more of the team’s rushing duties, and the Lions cut Bush. In 2015, Theo’s pass-catching skills earned him bigger role in the offense. He only logged two or three carries a game, but had 80 receptions out of the backfield. His best game came late in the year when he caught 7 passes for 63 yards in a 32–17 December win over the 49ers. Theo also had a 10-catch game against Arizona, but the Lions lost. His 697 receiving yards gave him the team record for running backs, eclipsing the mark set by James Jones in 1984.

Theo began the 2016 season as half of the Lions' backfield tandem with Ameer Abdullah. They combined for 228 total running and passing yards in the team's Week 1 victory over the Colts.With the Lions anxious to improve on their league-worst ground attack, Theo got the year off to a great start by scoring on a 21-yard run on the game's opening drive.

 

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