Richardson's Multiple Roles

He saw action in four games last season but suffered an injury that hampered his play. Now sophomore defensive lineman Jordan Richardson, an academic All-MWC player, has missed all of spring. He expects to be ready to go come fall, but the question is where?

"I tore my labrum this last season but still played with it like that," Jordan Richardson said. "They decided to do that surgery and I got that done in February, and since then I've just been recovering and doing a lot of lower body workouts. My upper body is getting weaker, but that's alright right now. My lower body is stronger than ever though because I've been squatting like crazy."

Although he suits up, Richardson has been withheld from participating during spring practices even though he's close to being cleared. Still, all has not been lost to Richardson.

"Since I haven't been able to practice I have been watching and taking mental reps," Richardson said. "That's about the extent of my practice experience over spring. It's been really hard for me not being able to go out there and be a part of everything, but at the same time it's been really good for me also. I've never been this hungry to back out there on the field than I've ever been before, so that's one positive thing about this and it's really good. My plan is to continue getting myself healed up and have a good summer and work my tail off to get ready for fall."

"Jordan is a great kid," said defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi. "He comes from a great family and has a great older brother Brock that came through here. His parents did a nice job with their kids and I really enjoy Jordan."

While on the mend, Richardson has been spending a lot of time in the film room.

"I like to study film on the Pittsburgh Steelers," he said. "I watch how they use their hands and see how they apply their technique in the 3-4-4 system. That way I can imitate how they do things when I'm out on the field because they run a three-man front similar to us. They are such masters at what they do and their defensive linemen are amazing – how they use their hands to control the two gaps and all that stuff."

Apparently, Richardson's study efforts have impressed.

"If I had to say who would be a head coach some day, it would be Jordan Richardson," So'oto said.

So what does Richardson think about that?

"Yeah maybe, but it's not something that's in my immediate plans," Richardson said. "I'll for sure one day coach my kids and probably wiggle my way in there somehow, but maybe one day I wouldn't mind being a college coach. It's just not in my plans right now, but that's really neat that Vic would think of me in that way."

In the meantime, Richardson is nearing the point where he'll be able to participate in full workouts.

"I be able to come back next month, but next month will be just lifting and running, so I'm just going to kind of train on my own," said Richardson. "We don't have actual practices until next fall so I'll just work on my own technique and stuff. I'll also come out here [on the practice field] and work on the bags and get some of the guys on the team to come out here with me, so I can make up some of the things I missed over spring. It's been hard but I feel really optimistic about this coming fall."

"It's too bad he missed spring camp, but we have to get him healed up and ready for next fall," Kaufusi said. "He should be in the mix somewhere, but I don't know where yet. It just depends on who can do what.

"He may not be my top guy right now, but I've told my guys that there is a role for everybody, and some of you guys backing up need to know other positions and might have to play out there. If you can't move then you'll have to stay at one position, but if you can move around a little bit, and Jordan can do that, then you have a chance to play multiple positions."

Coach Kaufusi called Richardson his "utility guy."

"He's a smart kid and can learn another position instead of just playing one, so if we're thin or if someone gets hurt or if someone needs to come out I can count on him to go in because he go in at the different positions," said Kaufusi. "I told him that last year. He's big enough to play the nose and he moves around well enough to help us at the end."

"I'm kind of playing both and played both positions this past season," Richardson recalled. "I played both the nose guard and the end and can play both positions. Coach Kaufusi has told me that I'm kind of a utility guy. Other than that I don't really know what their focus is on me. I have an interview with him and Coach Mendenhall next week, so I'm going to ask him. I'll be sure to ask him to make sure what they want me to focus on.

"I need to ask them what I need to train for, either nose or end," continued Richardson with a laugh. "I don't mind playing one or the other, just whatever gets me on the field. It would be good because then over the summer when I'm working out I can focus on the technique and personal development within that position.

"If I'm going to play nose, I probably want to get stronger. That way I can better handle the different kinds of blocks the nose guard gets. If I'm going to play end, I would focus on being quicker and faster and more of a speed rush type player, and work on the technique for the types of blocks those guys get out there. One is a different focus than the other, but they're both positions on the d-line, so that's good."

"You know, we want him to be on the inside," said Kaufusi. "But when you don't have guys, you want them to learn the other position especially if they want to play. He's really an inside guy and [we] would only put him out there on the end if somebody got hurt."

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