Parkston native Riley Reiff is drafted by the Detroit Lions
PARKSTON -- At home where he was most comfortable, Riley Reiff found out he will be a Detroit Lion, playing in the NFL.
The offensive tackle who played collegiately at Iowa was selected 23rd overall Thursday around 9:20 p.m., when Lions superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson took the podium at Radio City Music Hall in New York to read the Parkston native's name.
"I was pretty nervous, but when I got that call I was pretty excited," Reiff said from the kitchen table at his childhood home about one hour after getting selected.
Now, Reiff will move from Parkston -- with 1,458 residents -- to Detroit, with a population of more than 713,000.
Riley's mother, Jo, had a Lions T-shirt on within seconds of her son getting notified of Detroit's selection. Jo and her husband, Tom, were glowing with joy for their son's future in the NFL.
Within minutes of Reiff's selection, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz called Reiff for congratulations.
"He said 'I'm happy that you're a Lion,' and I told him the same," Reiff said.
For the duration of his rookie contract, Reiff will play in the NFC North Division, the same division as Minnesota Vikings linebacker and Mount Vernon native Chad Greenway. Both played football at Iowa and are first-round selections in the NFL Draft. Greenway was picked 17th overall by the Vikings in 2006.
"Chad has helped me out a lot," Reiff said. "We keep in touch quite a bit and it will be fun to play against him."
The Lions and Vikings square off in Week 3 of the NFL season, on Sept. 30 in Detroit at Ford Field. The teams play twice a year during the regular season and will meet up again Nov. 11 at Mall of America Field in Minneapolis.
"I'm so excited for him," Greenway said. "I know what it's like on draft day. It's nerve-wracking and exciting to be in this position. ... Having another South Dakota native in the NFL is awesome, especially from the same area."
Reiff said he arrived in South Dakota on Sunday, choosing to be near friends and family for the big day. Since then, he's politely declined media interviews, but said he would be happy to take a few minutes to talk with The Daily Republic on Thursday night at his house. He's spent time away from thinking about the draft by being on the Missouri River, catching walleye and smallmouth bass. Though he added he only caught one keeper.
Thursday, Reiff spent the early parts of draft day meeting with the Parkston High School football team. He also went golfing with family and friends. Today, he's flying to meet with his new bosses.
"I fly out (this) morning and meet with the coaches, the (general manager) and the whole organization," Reiff said. "I'll meet with some fans, get back to work and get ready for (organized team activities)."
In the upcoming weeks, Reiff and his agent will negotiate a contract with the Lions. Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Danny Watkins from Baylor in the first round. Baylor signed a four-year contract worth a total of $7.9 million.
Despite the potential for a large contract, Reiff, who drives a Ford F-150, said he doesn't plan to upgrade to a new vehicle in the near future.
"I just put new tires on it," with a chuckle.