Texas Tech football’s wide receiver Dalton Rigdon has had a strong start to his sophomore season as he has broken all of his career highs in the first two games under head coach Matt Wells.
In the opening game of the 2019 season, Rigdon recorded 62 of Tech’s 436 receiving yards, helping the Red Raiders defeat the Bobcats 45-10, according to Tech Athletics. The sophomore also set career highs in receptions with six catches and rushing yards as he ran for seven yards in a single attempt.
Following the win against Montana State, Rigdon played a part in defeating University of Texas at El Paso as he recorded 83 of the Red Raiders’ 281 receiving yards while scoring a single receiving touchdown, according to Tech Athletics. The 83 receiving yards and one touchdown set career highs for the sophomore as he also recorded the longest reception of his career with his 49-yard reception for the first touchdown of his career in the second quarter.
“Really just what went through my mind (after the touchdown) was everything I’ve gone through,” Rigdon said. “Deciding to come here, giving up other opportunities was all worth it right in that one moment.”
Before making an impact on Tech’s offense, Rigdon said he had no offers to play football out of high school and was a preferred walk-on for Wes Kittley’s Tech track team over the summer. Rigdon said he planned on continuing his career in track before Wes Kittley’s son, Zach Kittley, sent him a direct message on Twitter.
“Zach Kittley, who you know coach (Wes) Kittley’s son, was a GA at the time here, you know, sent me a message on Twitter and said, ‘Don’t sign anything from my dad yet, we want you to come and play football,’” Rigdon said. “And I said, ‘Alright sign me up, like let’s go I’m ready.’”
Rigdon started his career with the football team in 2017, but only made an appearance in one game his true freshman season, according to Tech Athletics. Despite only playing in the season opener, Rigdon impressed the team with his speed and made the travel squad for the Red Raiders and was rewarded a redshirt by the NCAA.
In his redshirt freshman season last year, Rigdon earned more time on the field as he appeared in seven games, according to Tech Athletics. Rigdon finished his redshirt freshman season with three receptions, 29 receiving yards and his first career tackle as he played on Tech’s offense and special teams.
This season, Rigdon was one of eight walk-ons to be rewarded with scholarships by Wells at the end of training camp, according to Tech Athletics.
“It just came down to finally being able to prove to myself that I was always right that I really could make it,” Rigdon said regarding his reaction to earning a football scholarship. “That was a big thing for me too, you know, prove to myself that I belonged here, you know, I’d earned my way here.”
Along with proving to himself that he belonged on a Division I football team, Rigdon said the scholarship meant a lot because of a promise he made to his parents.
“Before I signed, I promised my parents that I would come here and I would do everything I could to earn a scholarship,” Rigdon said. “I promised them if they gave me the opportunity to come and work that I would make it up to them for sure and so that was the most gratifying moment. To be able to call them and let them know, ‘Hey, I told you I was going to do it and here we are. It’s happening.’”
As Rigdon was rewarded the scholarship, Wells said Rigdon earned his spot on the team as he admires his work ethic.
“Same guy every day,” Wells said regarding Rigdon. “Since the minute we walked in here, it’s like, who is this dude. Same guy every day. Never busts assignment. Catches everything thrown to him. He’s 160 pounds dripping wet. Blocks his tail off. Catches everything and he’s really fast. He’s been a joy to coach. I know Luke (Wells) and Joel (Filani) coaching him, but he’s been the same guy. He’s a consistent guy. You know exactly what you’re getting with Dalton (Rigdon) every day.”
With Wells and his teammates praising his work ethic, Rigdon said he had to work hard everywhere he has been.
“I grew up blue-collared, nothing was ever handed to me,” Rigdon said. “I had to earn everything at Perryton and I had to earn everything here and it’s really just what I wanted to do. I wanted to play football at Tech, you know, worse than I wanted to do anything else.”
Along with Rigdon working towards his goal, he said he credits his parents on how they raised him.
“I can thank my parents for that one,” Rigdon said regarding his work ethic. “I was raised a blue-collared kid. Both of my parents are in the oil business, which is a really cutthroat, hard business to be in. And I get a lot of that from my dad, you know, he has spent hours working in a truck out on the rigs, you know, just continued to work his way up in his company and reaped the benefits of that. He raised me to be hard-nosed, a hard-nosed guy, just to get after it every day.”
As his father raised him to work hard for what he wants, Rigdon said his dad is one of his biggest role models.
“Family wise, yeah my dad, I look up to him a lot just because that guy is the hardest working dude I know,” Rigdon said. “I been around a lot of people and grew up around a lot of oil field guys, there’s a lot of people that work hard, but man, that guy, that guy did a lot of stuff. “
On the football field, Rigdon said he looks up to former Red Raider and NFL player, Wes Welker.
“Professionally, you know Wes (Welker). That’s probably the biggest one,” Rigdon said regarding who he models his game after. “Kinda similar type thing as me. He came from a small town, right. Not heavily recruited, but just thought he could play and so he went and did and now he’s one of the greats.”
Rigdon will join the Red Raiders as Tech is set to play its third game of the season against Arizona at 9:30 p.m. The game will be in Tucson, Arizona and will be televised on ESPN.