Beau Riley’s relentlessness created a pathway from one ear through the other.
The voices that indicated epilepsy would prevent him from playing football traveled that route.
Then a 17-year-old, Riley finally met with a doctor — Dr. Paul Knowles of Marshall Health — who said he was free to step inside the lines.
After two more years of high school football at Fairview, Riley signed a letter of intent on Wednesday to play for the University of Pikeville.
“Having epilepsy caused a lot of controversy as to whether I needed to play football. Some people would say, ‘Oh, you’ll never drive again,’ and some said ‘You’ll never be able to see flashing lights,’” Riley recalled.
Riley suffered his first seizure at age 16. He was eating a bowl of Cookie Crisp cereal at his friend Zach Ferrell’s house when, all of a sudden, he was told, he convulsed and tossed the cereal across the room. The next thing he remembers is waking up in a hospital bed.
“My buddy says he’ll still find Cookie Crisp in that room,” Riley said with a laugh. “We think it’s the funniest thing — I kinda have a weird sense of humor. But, I woke up and I was in the hospital. I’m looking around and I’m like, what happened?”
Riley leaned on his family — namely his mother, Lisa; “I’m a momma’s boy,” he admitted — and his Fairview family, he said, to clear the hurdles epilepsy has presented.
“Everyone pitched in,” Riley said. “If I had a seizure at the school, a circle of football players would just form around me. The teachers would help me. The coaches would sit down and help me. I’ve got short-term memory loss, too.”
Riley succeeded as an offensive and defensive lineman for the Eagles. He enjoys protecting the quarterback, but he also likes “going crazy and tackling the (opposing) quarterback.”
Riley endured his worst seizure during a game at Hazard in 2016. He had just run to the sideline after absorbing a blow to the back of the helmet. A few moments later, assistant coaches Bruce Gibson and Bill Daniels noticed that Riley was having a seizure. Normally he blacks out, but it was “kind of like I was awake during it,” Riley said.
As a result, Riley has experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
He takes the admirable approach of embracing his situation.
“I love that I have epilepsy because it built character in me,” Riley said. “I plan to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology or criminal justice. I was to be a police officer or in therapy. I want to help people who have had traumatic things happen to them, and talk them through things.”
Riley isn’t the first in his family to go to UPIKE. Brooke Gee, his sister, is an assistant basketball coach for the Lady Bears.
Urbina eyes WVSU
Greenup County’s Evan Urbina developed an infatuation with the weight room as a freshman. The adoration for pumping iron has only intensified.
Now at 6-foot-4, 302 pounds, Urbina is an imposing figure on the offensive line. The Musketeers senior signed a letter of intent on Thursday to suit up for West Virginia State University.
Doubters fuel him, he said.
“There have always been a lot of people telling me what I can’t do,” Urbina said. “People tell me I can’t, so I will.”
Urbina credits the coaching staff at Greenup County, his teachers and his family for pushing him to become a top-notch lineman and well-rounded individual, academically and athletically.
Urbina said he was “scared to death” when he fully emerged onto the varsity scene as a sophomore, when he first became a starter.
“That Evan was scared,” he said. “This Evan will go out there and get the job done. He’s got a better football IQ, and it’s a much tougher, more mature Evan.”
Urbina likes playing guard because he can get “really nasty and gritty in the middle” as he encounters the biggest bodies the opponent has to offer.
Urbina plans to study kinesiology.
Paintsville trio signs
Tyrese Allen, Dalton Daniels and Tyler Couch all signed with their respective schools on Friday afternoon at Paintsville High School.
Allen finally made it official with West Virginia University. The longtime commit brings a big body and versatility to the Mountaineers. The Daily Independent’s Small School All-Area Player of the Year excelled on both sides of the ball as a senior. Allen rushed for 882 yards and 17 TDs. He caught four balls for 105 yards and a score. He also amassed 42 tackles, including 25 of the solo variety.
Daniels tallied 77 carries for 444 yards and made a considerable impact as a linebacker. The Georgetown signee collected 44 tackles last season.
Couch inked with the University of Kentucky as a preferred walk-on. In going to Lexington, he’s following the footsteps of his father, Joey. Joey starred as an All-SEC nose tackle at UK after his playing days at Paintsville. He died on Dec. 15, 2017. Weeks later, UK extended an offer to Tyler Couch that he accepted.
The younger Couch assumed spots on the offensive and defensive lines for the Tigers over the past two seasons after transferring from Lexington Catholic to Paintsville. He moved in with Joey upon relocating.
Bingham to Herd
Johnson Central offensive tackle Ethan Bingham is eager to see how he can size up for Marshall.
The 6-foot-6, 315-pound senior signed with the Thundering Herd last week after a career rivaled by few at Johnson Central. Bingham was a pivotal piece as the Golden Eagles made three straight Class 4A finals appearances. They won it all when he was a junior.
Reach AARON SNYDER at [email protected] or (606) 326-2664. Follow @DIndependentQB on Twitter.