"I'm living the dream," admitted Missouri defensive tackle, Sheldon Richardson 6'4" 300, referring to playing football at the University of Missouri. "You can say that! You can say I'm living the dream!"
Due to an injury to fifth-year senior Terrell Resonno, Richardson is scheduled to get his first start on Saturday against Oklahoma State.
"If we come out with a victory on Saturday, I'll really be living the dream," exclaimed Richardson. "(My) first career start!"
After Resonno went out of the Iowa State game, Richardson got the majority of the snaps. He said that his physical conditioning has improved to the point where he can handle the additional work.
"It's a great feeling being the starter," said Richardson, who's been playing more and more. "(It's) more snaps. I feel like I handled it well. I feel like I adjusted to (playing) more snaps well.
I asked Richardson what it's like for him playing in the Big 12 conference, compared with his previous experience, in high school and junior college.
"It's been pretty good," explained Richardson. "Guys are a little more aggressive. Guys are finishing blocks. When they get a hand on you, they don't let you go. That's how I call it. Physical blocking is what I call it. It's all great. It's fun and games. I'm having a blast! And, I'm enjoying it."
Since his arrival in early August, Richardson has been undergoing a crash course in playing major college football. The talented junior-college transfer is learning fast, and has really been making progress of late.
"Sheldon is getting better and better," said Missouri Head coach Gary Pinkel, talking about Richardson's progress on the football field. "I said at the beginning of the season that you would find out when you watch him, (as the season went along). First of all, he wasn't here this summer, so the better shape he gets into, and also the (more) coaching that he gets………………………………………. Most inexperienced players at this level have to start and stop. They have to go. They have to be six-second players. They're bigger athletes, but they have to be able to finish all of the time. And, as he's learned techniques that Coach Kuligowski has taught to him, he's a very good athlete. As he's learned how to play harder, and more consistently, he's playing at a higher level. And, it will continue to go. I mean, we're halfway through the season. He's a lot different player right now than he was at the beginning, and in three weeks, he'll be a lot better. With Terrell Resonno out now, we're going to see him play a lot more. On the learning curve, and the production curve, he's kind of exactly like I thought he would be."
"I'm having to learn a little technique," explained Richardson. "The game's starting to come to me a little more. I was out for a season, so you know. It was a little rusty. The rust is really starting to come off now. So, I'm starting to go back into my old ways, making more plays, and causing havoc in the backfield. I just like to play in the backfield, instead of at the line of scrimmage."
Richardson turned his thoughts to Oklahoma State, whom the Tigers will face this Saturday.
"I just know they have a good offensive line," replied Richardson, in response to my question about what he knows about Oklahoma State. "Good offensive line, because they're undefeated right now. So, they're doing something right."
I asked Richardson how he sees his contribution to the Missouri defense.
"(We need to be) more aggressive, more disciplined, more violent, ferocious, relentless," explained Richardson, speaking on behalf of the Missouri defense. "But, we've got to stay consistent throughout the entire game."