Richard's Family Connection(s)

FAIRBURN, Ga. – Milan Richard has everything scouts look for in a recruit – size, speed and above all, smarts.

At 6'3" and over 200 pounds, the Calvary junior towers over nearly all of teammates. For a tight end his speed is "tough to match," according to his coach Mark Stroud. His performance in the classroom is the "most important thing" to him right now, even more than the offers from Georgia, South Carolina and three others.

All of his unparalleled characteristics stem from the family bloodline. After all his parents, Bill and Veronica, were both track stars at Georgia in the 80s and her brother, Milan's uncle, was also a Georgia standout –– former running back Herschel Walker.

Milan Richard in early season action (Wes Muilenburg/Dawg Post)

Veronica's track scholarship was the first ever offered to a woman at Georgia. It proved worthy as she went on to become an All-American sprinter in 1982 –– the same year Herschel won the Heisman Trophy. Bill was also an All-American –– though a year earlier and in hurdles –– and together the two developed their romantic relationship during their tenures in Athens.

Athletic ability isn't what ties the Richard family together though. It falls in line just after unity and faith. Milan says that the close relationships with all relatives, including those outside the immediate family, have been vital to his athletic development. It's something his mother is thrilled to see since it was how she planned to raise him decades ago.

"Some kids don't have the blessing of such a close-knit family," she said. "He and his father are inseparable, and I really like that. Both [Bill] and I were very close to our own fathers, and we wanted to make sure Milan had the same experience."

Bill and Veronica have attended every one of Milan's games since Pop Warner league. She cheers loudly from the stands while he films tape to review after the game. It's the positive and persistent involvement that plays such a big part in Milan's success on the field.

"They're involved in such a good way – the right way," Stroud said. "They've done a great job at preparing him for college. I think they realize that –– probably because they were both college athletes –– there are a lot of things happening out there, and they have the ability to take him to special places."

The intimate feel extends even further than the family though. Milan sensed those same emotions from the staff and roughly 400 students at Class A Calvary when he was shopping for high schools a few years ago. Because of that he chose to play football at the small and quaint school in Savannah.

"The family atmosphere sold me on Calvary," Milan said while acknowledging that most people there also attend the same church. "It's a really close-knit place where everybody knows everybody which makes it just a great environment to be in."

Milan affirmed that whatever college program he chooses would have to have the same ambience surrounding it, or it won't really be considered.

"It will definitely play a factor in my decision," he said. "We're going to pray about it and go from there. There's a lot of people interested me, and I'm interested in a lot of them. I'm definitely going to take a long hard look at my options."

Perhaps the most monumental goal for his collegiate career though is to break out of his uncle's proverbial shadow and make a name for himself –– even if it isn't at Georgia.

"A lot of people think I'm 100 percent going to Georgia just because [Herschel] went there, and that's not really fair to say," he said. "I'm my own person, and I have to make a decision where I feel comfortable. Wherever I go, I'm going to be Milan Richard –– not Herschel Walker." Milan's relationship with Herschel is great – the two speak about once a week. But they don't have the coach-to-player bond that many would assume. The former NFL star tries to steer clear of Milan's career and only offers insight when it's sought after.

"I may suggest something to him, but I don't want to overload it or make it a coaching session," Walker told CBS Sports. "I just want him to have fun."

"We want him to have his own identity," he continued. "Milan has to be Milan. Milan may be better than Herschel. We don't want him to limit himself."

If he does choose to play somewhere other than Georgia, the coaching staff won't be the reason. Richard claims his relationships with head coach Mark Richt and tight ends coach John Lilly are "great", and that every time he visits Athens he "feels at home."

Hearing that quite pleases Veronica. She is excited in her son's interest of playing at her alma mater, but more thrilled at how the program has handled the recruiting process.

"They're giving him a lot of space," she said. "They're not messing with him at all or pressuring him into any kind of decision."

Recruiting has changed quite a bit over the past decade alone, as athletes are being tracked much earlier than ever before. Stroud says that it's "almost black and white" compared to the days when he first began coaching high school. The explanation? Technology.

"Colleges are reaching down way deeper and way earlier and part of that is because technology has changed everything," Stroud said. "It is what it is. Social media has taken over, and there's not much anyone can really do about that. We just have to keep it all in perspective moving forward."

Though there may be some drawbacks to the process, Milan is enjoying the exposure he's receiving and looking forward to being courted by more schools this fall.

"Going into fall I'm excited about going to some games," he said. "I've been looking at schedules and picking out where I want to go. It's fun but at the same time, we've got to take care of this [season] first. High school football and classes and all that come first."

Milan Richard in early season action (Wes Muilenburg/Dawg Post)

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