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ESPN names Ken Riley as Bengals’ top small-college player

The Bengals hit the small-school jackpot early with Ken Riley.

Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Clifton Boutelle/Getty Images

With the draft still going on as planned, NFL teams are looking at college talent to fill their rosters.

Programs like Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, and LSU will get plenty of representation during the draft. But other schools, like Dayton, Utah State, and Connecticut will get a rare opportunity to send top prospects to the NFL.

While the majority of Bengals players on the currently roster played for large schools like Ohio State and Oklahoma, small school prospects occasionally pay off. Currently, William Jackson and Brandon Wilson from Houston, and Darius Phillips from Western Michigan lead the Bengals’ crop of small-school alumni.

Ben Baby picked the obvious choice that Bengals fans are well are of.

The Bengals’ best small-school player was former Florida A&M Rattler Ken Riley, who played with the Bengals from 1969-1983.

Here’s what Baby said:

Riley seamlessly made the transition to cornerback after spending his college days as Florida A&M’s starting quarterback. He menaced NFL passers during his 15-year career and tallied 65 total interceptions, good for fifth all time and easily a franchise record that will be nearly impossible to break. His name isn’t as notable as that of former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson, another small-school product with Hall of Fame numbers, but he deserves some love for an unheralded career.

Bengals fans have been clamoring for both Ken Riley and Ken Anderson to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Both players were the best at their positions for most of the ‘70s and the early ‘80s.

Florida A&M was a small school, even when Riley played football. Riley played before the NCAA was separated into divisions; but four years after Riley was drafted, Florida A&M classified as Division II. The Rattlers currently play in Division 1-FCS in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

After his NFL career, Riley went back to Tallahassee to become the Rattlers head coach in 1986, and athletic director in in 1994.

The fact that Riley is still fifth all time in interceptions, especially since he played during a run-heavy era, is remarkable.

The other Bengals Ken that Baby mentioned was Ken Anderson, who was an alumnus of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Augustana is currently a Division III school with an enrollment of only 2,500. Anderson played for the Bengals from 1971-1986

Anderson was one of the better quarterbacks of his era, and certainly had a Hall of Fame-calbier career.