A second-team All-Metro defensive back last season, Donovan Riley is one of the main reasons Poly's No. 10 football team has allowed only six points during its 3-0 start.

The 6-foot, 192-pound cornerback shuts down receivers. He has five tackles, an interception and three pass breakups while also scoring a pair of touchdowns as a wide receiver.

After a stand-out performance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine in San Antonio in January, the senior received offers from Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati and Wisconsin. Riley opted to commit early to Virginia Tech, a program that has gone to 18 straight bowl games. He plans to major in biology or sports medicine.

How did you get started playing football?

When I was 5 or 6, my father used to play football on Sunday in a one-touch football league and he played cornerback. I always used to go to him like, "Daddy, Daddy, I want to play. I want to play." He was, "Not now. Not now." When I was about 7, he signed me up for the Reisterstown Mustangs, and I played two years for Reisterstown and I switched leagues and went to Pikesville. I never found my position until coach Wes Johnson put me at wide receiver, corner and defensive end.

What position did you play as a little guy?

I played nose tackle, believe it or not. Nose guard and center. I think I had more fun playing nose guard than center. I used to jump over the center I was so fast. I used to get a running start.

How did that develop into your current position?

When I went to the Pikesville Wildcats, I told them I played nose guard and they didn’t believe me. I was fast, so they put me at corner. They saw I could hit, because I was a nose guard. Then the coaches started developing me as a corner.

Do you think playing nose guard helped you be a better defensive back?

Yeah, I think it developed my mindset. My mindset was different when I played nose guard — that nobody was going to block me, and that I was going to make every play. And as a corner, that's how I feel now.

When did football become your passion?

At first, I was a big basketball guy. I used to go watch Michael Jordan. I was at Michael Jordan’s last home game, and I touched his hand. When I came here [to Poly], I played basketball, but I found my love for football and I hung my basketball shoes up.

What was it about football that converted you?

You can hit in football. It’s legal. I can take a lot of my stress out in football. In basketball, you get fouls or technical fouls for that. In football, you don’t.

What makes this Poly defense so stingy?

I think all the players on defense are stingy about the ball. When the ball's in the air, we're calling it. We like to pick everything off. The linebackers, they like to hit everything that comes to them. The corners, they're lockdown. They have the mind set that nobody's going to run deep on them. And the linemen, there's not enough words to describe how physical they are.

What city league team are you most looking forward to playing on?

Dunbar. Their wide receiver, DeonTay McManus, he gives me a lot of work on and off the field. We work out together. I think he’s one of the most physical, crafty receivers in the state and I play on him. Working out with him and going against him have bettered my defensive back skills.

What makes the Poly-City football game so special for the players?