Travis Riley could be enjoying his final months of senior year at A.L. Brown with the rest of his classmates and friends.
Instead, the former Wonders' standout tailback, who graduated early in December, is already taking on his future at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is not only taking a full class load, but is also beginning his first spring football practice for the Tar Heels.
"My day is pretty much planned from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep," said the 18-year-old. "I know if I was still in high school right now, I'd probably be taking two classes, and pretty much coasting through the rest of senior year. But, I don't regret my decision to come here at all."
Riley spends his days going to college classes, lifting weights, doing conditioning drills and everything else associated with adjusting to the life of a college athlete.
While Riley says it has taken some time to get used to his new lifestyle, he is already enjoying it.
"You have to learn how to juggle and balance your schedule because there is so much to do," he said. "But I am getting used to it and things feel more normal."
Riley isn't the only freshman who arrived in Chapel Hill early. His three suite mates - former Mallard Creek quarterback Marquise Williams, Harrisonburg, Va., offensive lineman Landon Turner and Durham wide receiver T.J. Thorpe, are going through the same growing pains with him.
The freshman quartet all hope to be ahead of the learning curve when football practice begins in August.
"The sole reason I graduated early was to come up here and get ahead and show them what I've got," said Riley. "I feel like I have a good opportunity to do that."
Riley is also fully healthy for the first time in more than a year after his senior season was cut in half. He went down in the 2010 Wonder season-opener against Statesville with a knee injury. Even though he came back for the last four games of the season, he wasn't quite at full strength.
Riley, who rushed for 1,924 yards and 34 touchdowns as a junior at A.L. Brown and amassed over2,700 yards and 48 scores in his Wonder career, is looking to return to top form as quickly as possible.
At UNC, only rising senior Ryan Houston, a former Butler High star, and rising junior Hunter Furr are proven talents at running back for the Tar Heels, leaving a lot of room for opportunity for Riley.
"I definitely want to get on the field next year," said Riley. "If you're a competitor, like me, that is what you always want. I don't know if it will be at running back or on special teams or both, but I'm going to do everything I can to earn my way there."
If Riley's past is any indication, he won't wait for things to happen, because his future starts right now.