Offensive Leader?

CLEMSON – Barry Richardson came to Clemson as an ultra quiet, 18-year-old kid the size of an extra large man. He enters his senior season as an ultra quiet, 21-year-old fellow who could finish with more starts than any other lineman in school history.

During his freshman season in 2004, Richardson started more games (8) than any freshman in the long history of the program. To put it in perspective, Richardson was the first true freshman to start more than one game on the offensive line since Joe Bostic did it in 1975.

And because of his vast experience and excellent on the field efforts, Richardson, a preseason All American, is undoubtedly the leader on offense. But how does someone who is extremely soft spoken and a gentle giant become the vocal leader the team needs him to be?

It's a work in progress, to say the least.

"I'm like Dustin (Fry) last year," Richardson said of the former center. "He wasn't the most vocal person, but he led by example. I really want to do that. Usually you need just two people to lead with the rest of them following you and if Chris McDuffie backs me up, we'll be OK."

But Richardson understands that there will be times, some of which have already occurred, where he will need to voice his opinion one way or another.

"I think I need to be (the leader) because I have some experience," he said. "I'm trying to give the young players a little insight on the defenses out there that we're going to face. I'm trying to do the best I can to get the rest of them ready and the younger ones where they can just hold their own."

But when he's not speaking, which is most of the time, Richardson is acting like Fry and leading by example.

"I'm trying to show them how to get the techniques right," he said. "You can't really teach them any plays because by the time camp starts, there will be all new ones, anyways. Their just trying to get the techniques down and get the basic plays in offense."

However, with this being his senior season, Richardson also has to worry about himself. He knows that he has to be the best player on the line and that everyone expects it. He also understands that how he does will affect where he gets drafted.

But Richardson doesn't view it as pressure.

"I don't feel it," he said. "I've just been going out there and playing and these are awards are just coming. I don't expect any. I just go out there and play and will hopefully go to the next level. I'm just going to play the best I can.

"I always want to prove myself. I always want to give it all. I don't want to be that person who goes into his last year and people think I sandbagged the whole time. I'm going to go out there and play hard.

"If I get hurt, I get hurt. Just as long as I get drafted because then I can prove myself after I get better. It seems like people get hurt when they don't go hard. I'm not worried about getting a serious injury. I'm just going to play like I always have."

And Tiger fans and coaches couldn't ask for anything more.

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