After initially pursuing opportunities to play football in college, 2013 Yerington High School graduate Riley Neville is now headed to the University of Montana on a track scholarship to pole vault.
Riley had hoped to play football, his first love, but missing his senior season due to a knee injury hurt those chances, he and his father, YHS varsity football coach Cody Neville, said.
Football was the plan until the younger Neville began receiving calls from NCAA Division I track coaches after he made a nine-inch improvement in his pole vault height at the state track meet, where he extended his state record with a height of 15-6.
Track grant-in-aids are generally divided by percentage to extend the number of scholarships that can be given to student-athletes. Neville received a 65 percent scholarship of a full-ride, or close to $20,000 per year, he said.
Another plus in choosing University of Montana is that his parents, both natives of the state, are big fans of its football team (including ‘Griz stickers on their vehicles), and he grew up being a fan, saying he has a Montana football flag on his bedroom wall.
The Nevilles said Riley had Weber State at the top of his list after a visit to that Ogden, Utah, campus in June, but then Riley was called by Montana’s coach. and once he took the trip there, he accepted the offer, signing the letter-of-intent recently.
He also received calls from a few other smaller Division I college coaches.
“I had a stronger connection with that school than Weber State,” Riley said. “I connected with my (future) teammates really well,” he continued, adding that he enjoys the many outdoor opportunities in the area, including fishing and hunting. He also enjoys the fact UM isn’t in a large city, and another positive is that he has a lot of family who live in Montana not too far from the campus in Missoula.
As for a major for his collegiate studies, Neville said he is now undecided but is considering athletic training or health. As for his track events, he said pole vault is the main one, but the coach also talked to him about a multi-sport event like the decathlon, as he competed in several events in high school.