Enter 6-foot-5, 245-pound Martin County (FL) High School quarterback Richard Cleare.
Richard, not only one of the most talented quarterbacks in Florida this season but also a very intelligent and articulate young man, has received a great deal of interest from Mississippi State. In fact, while talking to him on the phone Wednesday night, Richard told me that, "I got a call from Mississippi State (Tuesday) night. I am going back next week (LSU weekend) for my official visit."
Richard, expanded on why he likes Mississippi State. "Mississippi State really caught my attention when I was there this summer (at the MSU football camp). I really liked the people there and Coach (John) Hendrick and I have a very good relationship. He called me last night and we talked about thirty minutes. He is a very spiritual guy and that is what I am looking for in a team." (Richard is a Deacon in his church.- Gene)
Richard attended the Mississippi State-Florida football game a few weeks ago but it didn't seem to bother him that Mississippi State lost by such a large margin. Richard, pulling for the Bulldogs during the game, said that, 'they just had a bad game'.
That's great news for Mississippi State but they are not the only school that Richard is showing solid interest in and plans on officially visiting.
"I have Southern Miss showing interest," said Richard. A Southern Miss coach called Richard and asked him to come in for an official visit. Richard plans to visit them and will also visit East Carolina.
All three schools have one thing in common, they all graduate their quarterbacks at the end of this season. That has made an impression on Richard.
"Maybe I will have a chance to start as a freshman or sophomore," said Richard. "I am going to go in and work hard and maybe I can be another (North Carolina State quarterback) Phillip Rivers and start for four years."
Although Mississippi State, Southern Miss and East Carolina are the only three official visits that Richard has or is setting up, he also mentioned that several other colleges are calling him, including the University of Miami, Kansas State, North Carolina (his favorite during the summer), Florida International and Florida A&M. He plans on taking an unofficial visit to a Miami game soon.
Normally, as most of you know, official visits are taken after football season is over. Richard, however, is not your typical student. According to his coach, Travis Lease, Richard "is graduating in December." That means he will be able to go through spring practice with whatever team he signs with.
That doesn't leave Richard much time to make his decision. According to Coach Lease, "by Thanksgiving (Richard) should know where he is going." Coach Lease also mentioned that the coaches and Richard are planning on unofficially attending the Thanksgiving Ole Miss- Mississippi State Egg Bowl game.
With a decision so near, what school is Richard's favorite at this time? Here is what Richard told me. "I am leaning more toward Mississippi State right now. When I take my visits, and if I'm not pleased with everything as I was with Mississippi State, then I'm going to sign with Mississippi State (in December)."
Although Richard has received significant interest from colleges, his talent level alone would normally cause more colleges to show interest in him. However, Martin County, 2-4 on the year, is young on the offensive line and has their three top receivers hurt. Those reasons are the primary reasons that Martin County has been more of a running team than a passing team this season. That has hindered Richard, a team player, in showcasing his passing skills. Having played four of their first six games against top ten teams in the 5A classification of Florida hasn't helped either.
Look for that to change this Friday night against their arch-rival South Fork High School.
"I feel bad about that because I know colleges are looking at Richard," said Coach Lease. "This week we are going to open it up. We are going to pass first to open up the run."
Look for additional updates on Richard as his season progresses.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.