March 26, 2011

Big OL has eyes on Army

Junior offensive lineman Robert Riche has grown up in Michigan, so it comes as no surprise that he has already taken an unofficial visit to Central Michigan, and will be doing the same at Western Michigan and Michigan State this month.

His ultimate destination, however, may in some ways be determined some 7,000 miles from home.

Riche's father has been working in Dubai for nearly two years, after being laid off at his job in Michigan. An aircraft engineer, he is a graduate of West Point.

That fact will in no small way impact his son's decision.

Mr. Riche is able to fly home for about two weeks every couple of months, and this past football season he was able to watch his son play state playoff games at Ford Field in Detroit.

Their home in Plymouth, about a half-hour ride from where the Detroit Lions play, is currently occupied by Robert's mother and his two-year-old sister. His other sister, 14, is for now living with her father. "My dad being (a graduate) is a big inspiration to me,'' Riche said. "I have a big interest in serving my country. I take pride in that.

"If my dad has the time, I'd love to visit West Point,'' says the Canton (Mi) Plymouth High School prospect. "I've never been there, but it has great tradition and plenty of leaders have come out of there.''

Dubai isn't quite the Detroit suburbs. Located on the Persian Gulf coast in the Arabian Desert, the temperatures at the start of the American football season have an average high of 102 degrees.

There is no football of course, although the word football does mean soccer over there.

There is lots of sand, and the world's largest man-made harbor, Port Jebel, is the biggest port in the Middle East.

Riche is not so much interested in the Middle East as he is in the
Mid-American Conference. Several schools have expressed interest, including Toledo and Bowling Green.

Of course, should he move to Dubai he could maybe get a scholarship in cricket.

A two-way tackle, the 6-foot-6, 270-pounder definitely prefers football, as well as offense. Especially left tackle.

Not 17 until next month, Riche said that the recruiting process is, "getting kind of crazy at the moment. I'm trying to get used to it. The phone rings quite a bit, actually. I've gotten about 20 letters from D-1 schools.''

His escape from all the attention will take on a totally new form this spring when he goes out for his school's rugby club team. He's never played the sport, but with his size he should be a little difficult to bring down.

"They even have state playoffs. You gotta do something,'' he said. "It's the closest thing to football without the football.''

And a lot closer than Dubai.

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