Published September 02, 2010
He's big enough at 6-foot-6, 312 pounds that he can play defense just like those heroes.
With that size, Richardson's future likely is at tackle and a big reason why at least 28 colleges are interested in the senior from Ensworth High School and on The Associated Press South Region 25 list of top recruits.
"He's particularly mature for a guy this size, and often times when kids are 17, 18 years old and they're 6-6 or 6-7 and weigh 300 pounds they're not quite caught up to their body and don't have the structural strength to move laterally and change directions," Ensworth coach Ricky Bowers said.
Richardson's father, Lanny, moved his son from a public school a couple counties south to the private Ensworth in Nashville wanting a better academic challenge after Richardson's freshman year.
Richardson had played nose tackle and still wanted to play defense, just like the linemen he watched at the University of Tennessee and the NFL's Tennessee Titans.
"I used to tell him all the time, 'You've got a type of body that will probably make a very good offensive linemen. They seem to play longer, they seem not to be as injury prone as the defensive guys. There seems to be some advantage to playing on the offensive side of the ball,'" his father said.
"He didn't want anything of it. His attitude was like, 'Oh Daddy.' I could tell I had to let him find out for himself."
At Ensworth, coaches started teaching him the techniques involved in blocking on the offensive line, and Richardson began blocking for running back Orleans Darkwa who ran for 1,952 yards in 2008 and 2,243 yards in 2009 before going to Tulane.
How many of those yards came behind Richardson last year?
"Almost all of them," Bowers said.
Lanny Richardson said he knew his son would be an athlete even as a young boy, watching how well he moved even though big for his size. Bowers has watched Richardson work hard both on the field and in the weight room to improve over the past 18 months and sees a very physical player now so athletic he could play on the basketball team.
That is why offers already are on the table from the likes of Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Alabama. But Richardson won't be announcing his decision until National Signing Day in February, despite getting up to 60 phone calls a week with so much mail coming in he already has a couple boxes filled.
Lanny Richardson said that's a blessing but all the attention complicates his son's decision. They once prayed he would get a scholarship offer one day.
"We were expecting it for him. ... Not this heavy and so fast," he said.