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How Elko, reuniting with little league teammates, landed ‘Tiger’ at Texas A&M

How Elko, reuniting with little league teammates, landed ‘Tiger’ at Texas A&M
How Elko, reuniting with little league teammates, landed ‘Tiger’ at Texas A&M

DeSoto running back Deondrae Riden was first given the name “Tiger” by his coach in the youth football league at the age of six.

But Tiger became “Robo Tiger” for DeSoto in 2023. Riden dislocated his elbow in the first game and had just 18 carries in the final three games of the regular season as DeSoto re-adapted him to the speed of the game. In the playoffs, he wore a full-body brace on his right arm and ran for over 100 yards in five of DeSoto’s six playoff games en route to a second straight state championship.

“I’m tough and I’ll never give up on my team,” Riden said. “I like to get back in the game, help out where the team needs me and get in the grip.”

That toughness is why Texas A&M and 37 other schools offered four-star status. But Riden knew he had to commit to the Aggies when he first met head coach Mike Elko.

“Being around him that one day made me make up my mind,” Riden said. “He is a sincere person. I had to come.”

Riden said Elko and associate head coach Trooper Taylor sold him on the program’s vision after describing how they took Duke from five wins in two years before Elko to a 17-9 record in two years with Elko.

“After seeing what they did at Duke, how they broke it down and being in the culture, I said, ‘Yes sir. This is the place I want to be,” Riden said.

Riden is the Aggies’ lone running back commit in the Class of 2025, and they have added four offensive linemen to block for him. While he’s in a large group chat with all the commitments, Riden is most familiar with Cy-Fair defensive lineman Landon Rink and Forney linebacker Kelvion Riggins. The trio played as minor leaguers on the DFW Elite team when Riden was first called Tiger. Now they are all DCTF Top 50 recruits in the Class of 2025.

They will team up again in Texas A&M uniforms.

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