Warner Robbins, Ga. junior Mike Richardson says he's pleased with how he's been playing so far in call camp.
"It's really been going good," said Richardson. "Mainly on defense we've been focusing on working as a team and working on individual techniques to get better.
"Mainly from my point, I've been trying to improve my back-peddling, breaking on the ball, changing directions, and being physical with receivers, as I know that is a big part of what the coaches want us to be able to do. I want to be the most physical guy out there. I want to dominate the receivers. I'm mainly trying to work on my speed and my footwork. The physical part is my strength."
Richardson, who has good speed and is a hard-hitter, has made improvement his first two seasons, but the former high school wide receiver says he's got room for improvement.
"I think I am progressing all right, but I am still not to the point where I want to be," Richardson said. "I will always want to work hard every day to get better because I know I'm far from where I want to be as a defensive back. The coaches have talked to us as a defensive unit, that we have to be more consistent and I know that is an area I need to improve and I am working hard at it."
Although the corner saw limited playing time last year (32:38), he believes he will have an expanded role as a leader this year because a lot of guys have helped him and put him in the position to challenge for the starting corner spot this season. .
"Coming in as a freshman corner, I really didn't know a lot. I came in with the mind set that I was going to learn as much as I could as fast as I could and I learned from the older guys," Richardson said. "But now I have to actually start taking on more of a leadership role as the year goes on and the next year because there's a lot of younger guys coming up.
"The guys who helped me most were Shane Walton and Vontez Duff. When I came in as a freshman, they really guided me and showed me the ropes and told me what I really needed to be doing. They showed me the different techniques that I need to learn. Those two are the main ones, plus Preston Jackson, he's been around for a while and has actually shown me a lot of things I need to know too."
The competition at corner has been fierce so far in fall camp according to Richardson. <.P>
"The competition is tough among the four corners and we're all pretty even right now. It's up to the coaches who is going to play this year. We just have to go out and prove to them each day who is the best player for the job. Even if we are battling each other every day, we are pretty tight. There's never any animosity or any negativity between us. We're all just going out competing and having fun."
Richardson was noted for his hard-nosed play on special teams last year and was the overall team leader with 243 appearances. When asked about the upcoming season he replied, "I think I will be a big part of special teams. I always want to contribute to the team as much as I can. Being on special teams and helping out in that area is a big help to the team. The coach always says they want physical players out there--the people who want to hit--that's what I want to do. I'm going to work every day to try to be that person."
Richardson has a new coach this season in Steve Wilks. Richardson thinks Wilks will do a great job for the Irish.
"He's really an intense guy and I like him as a coach," Richardson said of Wilks. "He's a real good coach and coming in and taking over the defensive backs, I really think he has done a good job. I'm really glad he's with us."
Irish Eyes will be surprised and disappointed if Mike Richardson's playing time at corner doesn't increase drastically. This is a young player who is a hard worker and dedicated to improving his skills and willing to do anything to help the team improve too.