BYU's Attraction Is Far-reaching

As word spreads of Coach Bronco Mendenhall's intent to develop young men in every aspect of their lives, so does the desire to play for the Cougars. In one case, Coach Mendenhall's attention to spiritual and character matters reached clear into the Deep South, to a caring mother's heart.

For the mother of a talented Mississippi athlete out of Moss Point High School, Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall is dream come true. Although she has never met the man, it is only a matter of time before that dream becomes a reality.

Meet Charlotte Richardson, a mother who has done her best to instill character in her son Jeremy, a 6'1", 190-pound athlete with 4.4 forty speed. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall seeks to instill the same character in the young men on his football team.

"We weighed yesterday and I weighed in at 6'1", 190," said Jeremy Richardson. "I played linebacker at Moss Point High School sir. I played linebacker last year but they want to work me in with the offense at fullback and at running back too. I played linebacker through the whole year, but they were thinking about maybe moving me to strong safety or maybe to a position like that."

Gary Elton is an LDS ward mission leader in the town of Moss Point and a close family friend of the Richardson family. As a coworker of Charlotte, Elton has been discussing the gospel principles and values of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elton also follows Jeremy's athletic and academic achievements.

"He's gotten letters from everywhere," said Elton. "He's really a good kid as well as a very good athlete. I don't know what he's done on the SAT but it's high I can bet because he's in the honor's program at school.

"Sometimes these mothers are the heads of their family, and she would really like to see her son go to BYU. Jeremy is really a good kid and really a good athlete."

Charlotte does want her son to attend BYU but it is not for the football program. Charlotte is primarily concerned with sending Jeremy to an environment in which he can develop his mind and his spirit.

"You want to teach your children to be concerned about the world they live in and that‘s the bottom line of it," said Charlotte. "You can build character and build a team at the same time in so many way. [Jeremy] does well in his books and I'm truly blessed because I don't have any problems with him. He's very respectful and I'm truly blessed. He's basically a quiet child in public and is just a yes sir, no sir person."

Coming from a strong Baptist background, Charlotte has kept her sons close to what is most important. She has taught her son the importance of prayer in all aspects of life, and to place the spiritual aspects first over the enticing things of the world.

"He's a Christian and he loves the Lord," Charlotte said. "He understands the power of prayer and he values other people, and if I was to describe him he would rather be hurt than hurt someone else and sometimes that‘s worked against him but in the long run it will work for him.

"There are a lot of worldly things but it's the spiritual things that matter in life and make a world of a difference that you combined with your everyday life. You nurture the spirit and everything else will fall into place."

However kind and thoughtful her son may be off the field, on the football field, Jeremy is an aggressive, hard working athlete.

"He is pretty aggressive on the football field and that's what one of the coaches was saying yesterday to me," Charlotte said. "He puts a lot of effort into it and he really, really puts a lot of energy into football.

"He loves the sport. When he was a little kid he slept with the football and he just loves the sport. You don't have to worry about him not working out, or if he gets hurt you having to tie him down or something like that. He played with a broken nose. He broke it in two places and played the entire game, and then when got through with the game he hollered and screamed."

Jeremy does not just have the passion to play football, he also has the physical abilities to compete at the highest level. "He can run like a deer." said Elton. "He plays cornerback and linebacker and he's very intense and that's why I think coaches would really go for him because he's so intense."

Currently, many big time BCS programs are knocking on the Richardson's door. However, the attention of such glitter and gold programs has stirred caution in a concerned mother.

"He got everyone from Columbia to Marshall, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Georgia Tech Miami, Florida State, Mississippi State, BYU, Illinois, LSU and we get letters every week from LSU," said Charlotte. "We get about three letters every week from LSU, Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida State and Mississippi State.

"I try to guide him but I want him to make the final choice. I'm just going to try and guide him in the direction that I want him to go by exposing him, and I feel that he will make a good choice and make BYU that choice when he gets up there. I feel he will because he's yearning for the spiritual aspect too, and he knows that's important in his life."

Jeremy confirmed his mother's words. "I'm looking for a good academic program and a good football team that does the extra things for spiritual reasons," he said. "I'm looking for an all around university that includes everything such as sports, academics and the spiritual things.

"I've received letters from Tennessee, LSU, Southern Miss, Georgia Tech, Marshall, Rice, Columbia and I just got some letters for the summer camp from Florida State and the Miami Hurricanes."

Along with the many letters he has received, Jeremy has also received two letters from BYU and although he does not know much about the university yet, Jeremy is happy to learn more of what BYU has to offer.

"[The letters] just said we are interested in you and we've heard about your talents and they wanted get to know more about me," Jeremy recounted. "They wanted to know my height, size and weight, and to fill out my academics in a form and everything.

"I don't know a whole lot but I do know they have 27 players currently playing in the NFL that I read. They are second in the western hemisphere for the most players going into the NFL."

"He was really proud to get that," said Elton of the first letter from BYU. "His mom would like him to go to BYU's summer camp this summer, but they don't have a lot of money you know."

Despite financial concerns, Charlotte is going to try her best to make sure both she and her son Jeremy make the trek across America to experience BYU first hand.

"We are going to head up and experience BYU and get an inside experience on the environment and all of the good things that come along with the program," said a resolute Charlotte. "I'll probably come and make sure he gets situated and meet the people and check all of that out. I'll be coming and to meet some of the people that will be working with him."

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