You play Washington early in the nonconference schedule next year. Do you think the coaches are sending a message that you are going after tougher competition and are out to prove some things next year?
Yeah, I don't know if it had a lot to do with Coach DiNardo, or who really scheduled it. We don't know, the players don't have anything to do with the nonconference schedule, but we don't care. We're going to take it one game at a time. Right now we're not worried about Washington; we're worried about UConn. The first game, the first snap, and like coach says the next Sunday after the game we'll celebrate against UConn and we'll worry about the next game. But Washington, they're a real tough team. They're always in the Top 25 and it's going to be fun. It's a team that a lot of the Big Ten doesn't play that much being from the Pac Ten and being so far away so it'll be fun. It'll definitely be a challenge for us, but you never get anywhere if you don't set challenges for yourself.
What did you learn out on the field this year that will help you next year?
It helps to be big. No just joking. I learned that experience is very key. Last year, I was blessed being so small and being able to get out there and get a lot of reps. Already in spring ball I feel like I know the defense and I'm learning how to read college linemen. It's a lot more in depth than high school where you kind of blow up and make a play. You have to notice things the offense is doing. Just putting on that 30 pounds and getting a lot stronger has helped me so much already. Just being out on the field and getting experience will really help me for next year.
Yeah you look a lot bigger even from the last time I saw you. How do you think Indiana will compete next year in the Big 10?
Well like Coach DiNardo says, you aren't going to go from last to first right away, but I see our team, I haven't even been here a year, and I can notice a different demeanor about the team as far as mental toughness and just our conditioning. When coach got here last year eight guys passed the conditioning test, and they gave the conditioning test about two weeks ago right before we left for spring break. It was almost a year ago to the day that coach got here and we took the test and this year 69 percent passed. There's like 50 something guys that passed. That's just great improvement. I know that's not a game and it's not in the season, but when you improve in the little things and the mental things and the conditioning, that's going to make us better football players and that's going to help our record. Only time will tell. But everyone is working hard and no one will accept another 3-9 season, so that's the attitude around camp right now.
So do you think getting more comfortable with DiNardo's system and way of doing things will help you next year?
Definitely. It's not a matter of getting comfortable with the way he's doing things, it's about doing it the way he likes it. He knows what to do he's been there before. We don't know what to do. No one on this team has ever had a winning season. He has. He knows what to do, so it's just a matter of us following him and putting in the effort because we have great coaches. It's just a matter of us doing what the coaches tell us. We have a coaching staff that's been there before, so we need to entrust leadership and guidance with them.
Who's your favorite NFL player?
My favorite NFL player is Tim Rattay, he's a backup quarterback for the 49ers. That's just because he came from my high school and I now him pretty good. Other than that, I like Junior Seau. He's just a badass. He's an old guy, and he doesn't take any crap from anyone. And even though he's getting older, his play just stays high or even gets better. He's a mentally tough guy, smart guy and he's my number 55.
Where do you see Indiana football being by the time you are a senior?
By the time I'm a senior, I have a list of goals in my room that I don't tell everybody about show everybody, but I just have my own personal goals. Our class you can just tell. The freshman class this year, people saw us as a bunch of nobodies or a bunch of scrubs that they put together at the last minute. We had some guys start so we got some real football players, but as far as a class we're real close. We hang out together all the time. We enjoy each other's company. There's no cliques. We're just real close and I just see good things from our class because of leadership and effort that everyone puts out. By the time I'm a senior I expect to be coming out very high in terms of conference play. I'll be very disappointed. If I don't have a conference championship by the time I'm a senior I'll be real disappointed. I think that's a realistic goal for the next three years
Q & A Russ Richardson Part 2
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