Moeaki Pushes Richardson to Return

It looks like curtains for the career of Iowa lineman Dace Richardson last season. But inspired by the special bond with longtime friend and teammate, Tony Moeaki, Richardson worked his way back to the top line of the Hawkeye depth chart. Read what Richardson said about his relationship with Moeaki and how he feels about being back in the action in the interview transcript.

Q: You were a guy that came in with a lot of attention. You were highly recruited. Did that make it tougher to come back with you being a guy people had high expectations for?

Dace Richardson: It was a little tougher just from the standpoint that I wasn't playing with my teammates. They had an amazing year last year and I was just there supporting them, trying to help out the younger guys. It was just sad that I couldn't really contribute the way that I wanted to last season. But I also feel like I'm maybe stronger.

Q: Did it humble you in a sense? I don't know if you needed to be humbled, but did going through something like that you never really prepared for?

DR: It made me feel like I just can't take things for granted. I'm lucky to be out here. Thousands of kids dream of being able to play college football. This is my dream and I', lucky God put me in position to play this game. I just play my heart out. When he tells me my time is over, my time is over. Until then, I'm going to play as hard as I can and try to make something of it.

Q: What's it going to be like looking down the line against UNI and seeing Tony (Moeaki) playing up there with you?

DR: It's going to be nice. He's the one that got me started in football. With it being our senior year and being able to look down there and see him will be great. We've been through a lot together. I owe a lot to him. Just having us both back and healthy makes me tremendously happy.

Q: How did he get you started in football?

DR: He saw me in the weight room one time when I was getting ready for the basketball season.

Q: How old were you guys at this time?

DR: I guess it was during my freshman year. My freshman year, I didn't play football. We both played basketball together. He was telling me that I should get into football. At the time I was like, "Eh, I don't know." I wanted to be a basketball player and didn't know if that was such a good idea.

Q: How much did you weigh at that time?

DR: Back then I was a lot trimmer. I was probably like 230 on a 6-4 frame. So, I was like "I don't know if I can play football." Tony was like "You can play." He thought that I could do well. I decided to give it a try and I just did well. Because of him, I got the opportunity to go to Division I football and get a scholarship to play and get an education.

Q: He said that he really tried to get into your head last year to try to get you back out here. Can you talk a little bit about what that was like and how he influenced you to get back?

DR: During the whole rehab process, it was a long process. I would have good days and I would have bad days. Tony would seem to be there on those bad days. He would say little things like "Oh, you're not working like you want to be playing this upcoming season." It was little stuff like that. Just by him saying that makes me work even harder. I know deep down inside, he knew that I wanted to do it. He just wanted to make me push myself a little harder. I thank him for that. He's been a good friend. I just feel like without him and my family and friends, it would have been a lot harder road to get to where I'm at.

Q: Now that you feel healthy has time kind of slowed down? Are you anxious to get back on game day and have that feeling again?

DR: Oh yeah. (Friday), our first practice, it was amazing to be out there. For pretty much two years, I haven't been in camp. To be able to be out there playing with my teammates, it's just amazing. Three weeks from now we'll be getting ready for our first game and that will feel even more special.

Q: I'm not sure if the NFL was ever an aspiration for you. Is it? And do you think about that now that you're back? You obviously need to go out there and prove yourself again this year.

DR: Right now, I just want to have a good year. I want our team to be able to play well. If I play well, I hope I can contribute to the tram playing well. If the NFL is a possibility, I'm going to try it. If not, I'll just move on to something else.

Q: Do you look at yourself as an inspiration? I talk to your teammates and they seem inspired by the way you've come back.

DR: I never think of myself as an inspiration. It's nice that people feel that way. Personally, I just want to work hard at anything I do. I told myself to push the pedal on the rehab and work as hard as I could if I wanted to play as well as I can. My teammates seem happy that I'm out here and I'm happy to be with him.

Q: How long have you been friends with Tony?

DR: I first met him in seventh grade. We went to two different middle schools and we played each other in basketball. From that point on, we just kept in touch. Then we went to the same high school and have just been good friends ever since. I guess we hit it off because we're kind of the same people. We played the same sports and hung around with the same people. He's a nice guy. And as you can tell, he's pretty funny. He cracks me up.

Q: Who got the better of those middle school basketball games?

DR: He beat us in eighth grade, so I guess I would say him.

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