When Selden’s Elijah Riley got the call last November that the Jets were signing him, to say he was excited would be an understatement.
“Unbelievable experience,” said Riley. “Pee Wee me would be ecstatic.”
Riley was signed off the Eagles practice squad and the second-year safety quickly became one of New York’s better defensive backs. The former Newfield Wolverine made 45 tackles and had three tackles for loss in just seven starts for the young Jets
“We want to turn the Jets organization around, get it going in the right direction,” Riley told Greater Long Island. “I think we’ve got the right guys to put it together. We want to win. This losing stuff isn’t fun.”
What was fun for Riley was playing so close to home, which may have felt like a Newfield home game considering his fan support.
“Parents came out to watch, siblings came out to watch, grandparents, friends, my girlfriend’s family, quite a few visitors to MetLife Stadium.”
And while Riley enjoyed the hometown support, he also enjoyed his hometown teammates. Lineman Greg Van Roten attended Chaminade High School while quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese played for East Islip High School.
“Of course Greg was one of the first people I saw. Calabrese and I chopped it up during practice,” said Riley.
Riley is a restricted free agent and says he expects to be back with the Jets this coming season.
He also has his eye on the upcoming NFL Draft, where Long Islanders Jack Coan and Jeremy Ruckert hope to hear their names called next month.
“I’m excited for both of those guys. Both very capable players who I hope will leave their mark on the league,” expressed Riley. “It would be really cool to have a bunch of Long Island guys running around making plays in the NFL because that’s not something we’ve seen in years.”
But it’s something Riley says would change the view people have of Long Island football.
“Long Island football sometimes doesn’t get the recognition it deserves and now we have the opportunity to show we can play ball.”
Watch the entire Zoom interview above.
Top: New York Jets safety Elijah Riley (33) rushes off the line in the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Houston, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. The Jets won 21-14. (AP Photo/Eric Smith)