Richardson Makes Most Of Opportunity

When Mike Kudla went down with a neck injury last week, sophomore Jay Richardson from nearby Dublin Scioto stepped into the void at defensive end. And, even when Kudla returns, Richardson still figures to be a mainstay for the Buckeyes this year. Click here for more on this rangy end.

If you didn't know better, you'd say Alonzo Spellman has returned to the Buckeyes and is wearing No. 99 again for the Scarlet and Gray.

No, that's not Spellman, but the wingspan of OSU's current No. 99 is fairly similar. Sophomore Jay Richardson, a defensive end listed at 6-6, 270 pounds, covers a lot of ground -- without even moving.

"My role as a defensive end is to keep contain, do the best I can and put on a pass rush," Richardson said. "(Defensive line coach Jim Heacock) thinks I'm one of the better pass rushers on the team. I've just got to get ready to go and go make some sacks."

None other than head coach Jim Tressel has already pinpointed Richardson, a product of nearby Dublin Scioto, as a player to watch this year.

"It will be fun watching Jay Richardson evolve," Tressel said. "Jay Richardson has played, I don't know, 20 plays since he's been here. But he's practiced a lot. He's getting ready. It's his turn to try and get after it and have some doing that. To me, that will be exciting to watch him."

Richardson moved into a starting role last week when junior Mike Kudla went down with a strained neck. Kudla figures to regain that spot, once he fully recovers. But in the meantime, Richardson is making the most of his opportunity.

"I've got a job to do," Richardson said. "I've got to come out and keep doing my job. Mike's in my prayers. I told him I would pray for him and whatever went wrong with his neck I hope it works out. But in the meantime, we've got to do our best. We have to be a defense and play football."

Working against OSU's first-team offense, Richardson is learning there is more to this game than speed, size and strength.

"We definitely have to play smarter," he said following Saturday‘s jersey scrimmage, won by the offense. "There is a time when you have to calm down and use your head and get ready to play. There's a time when you have to cut it loose. I think guys were out there trying to cut it loose and I think we just needed to relax a little bit, read some things, looked at the formation and gotten ready for it. But I think that's good sometimes."

With three starters graduating off OSU's defensive line, Richardson saw this year as his first big chance to play for the Buckeyes.

"I've been working a lot harder," he said. "I thought I had a good spring. I've been getting a lot stronger and a lot faster and that helps. That's what I needed to do for the team. I need to make plays, get off the ball and get to the quarterback.

"There are a lot of spots open. It's a lot different. Last year after we won the national championship, there were a lot of guys back and I think we all knew who was going to play. We had a lot of seniors back. I think a lot of guys were lax and we almost had an off year. But this year, it's wide open. That makes the competition better. Guys are fighting and that makes everybody better. I think that's real good for our defense."

Richardson made one sack in the scrimmage, but consistently brought pressure throughout. His sack was memorable. It came during a phase of the scrimmage when the quarterbacks were deemed off-limits. But Richardson was taking nothing to chance as he broke free, grabbed Troy Smith by the waist and playfully flung him backwards.

"Troy is a special quarterback," Richardson said. "You can't tone it down because if you do, he'll take off. So when you have a chance to get him, when you've got him. Even in the spring game when they said stay off of them, I still had to hit him to make sure. Sometimes the refs are a little shaky and they might not give it to you. That's when you have to make the sack definite."

As camp winds down, Richardson believes the Buckeyes have put the work in to be successful this year.

"We're over the hump now," he said. "This week, we have to focus on polishing the rock a little bit. The scrimmage was a way for us to get a base and see where we're at and what we have to work on."

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