"Last year, we had maybe four starting seniors and the rest were juniors, so everybody is coming back," Jordan Richards told The Bootleg earlier this week. "We're definitely looking for that sectional championship. … We run the spread, so I hope to keep getting opportunities at running back too."
With wide receiver coach Pep Hamilton among the lead contacts with Richards, it is fair to say Stanford, like most schools, is recruiting the rising senior primarily as a wide receiver. Still, Richards prides his versatility on the field and, in contrast to many other recruits, is adamant about playing wherever he can.
"I wouldn't know what position to choose if I had to," Richards said of receiver versus defensive back. "I play both and love to play both. I just want to get on the field anywhere. I'm happy as a receiver or a defensive back."
Richards visited Stanford during the Card's Junior Day the weekend of May 14. He reports no leaders, but when pressed further, does admit Stanford is one of the schools that stands out in his mind.
"Obviously, Stanford [stands out] because it's Stanford, and I've been to Arizona and really liked it," he said. "Then there's Cal of course, but everyone is still in the running.
"I went down to Stanford Saturday for their Junior Day. We got there in the morning and had an initial orientation. We took a tour of the facilities – the weight room, the practice field, the locker room – and had lunch with other Junior Day recruits, coaches and assistants. After lunch, we had a film session and a mini intro to the offense."
Stanford's run-first offense is a contrarian strategy in this spread era, and while such an offense appeals to no shortage of tailbacks and offensive linemen (and may help win games against defenses designed to and focused upon stopping the spread), it could be a drawback for a receiver, especially one used to the spread from his high school days. Richards, however, liked what he saw of Stanford's offense, namely high-level quarterbacking and the ability of the run to set up the pass.
"It's definitely smash-mouth, but there are lots of unique opportunities for receivers to implement different concepts," he said. "The doors are open due to the running game, play action and the bootleg."
Richards then toured the entire campus (he'd previously toured the football facilities), and met with Coach Harbaugh and Hamilton, the new wide receiver coach.
"[Hamilton] is likable," Richards said. "He loves football and is intense. You can tell he loves the game and being around it, and coaches kids up.
"Coach Harbaugh, it's his love for football and for Stanford. It was just basic things he'd tell me: ‘It's not that hard to sell Stanford to recruits because there's nothing to hide really with academics and the athletics.' That there's the opportunity to have both at Stanford was a key point of his."
Richards says Washington, Arizona and Stanford are the schools recruiting him the hardest, and that he suspects Washington State may offer soon. He has also visited Arizona, and has taken unofficials to Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Cal, about an hour away from his suburban Sacramento home.
Wearing No. 27 on the field – a peewee number he never changed – Richards may be ranked at least that highly in his class, where he reports a 4.17 on a 5.0 scale and an 1800 SAT. An interview with this reporter had to wait a day because of an AP US History project, and Richards plans on taking AP Calculus and honors physics come senior year. He has laid out similarly bold plans for his college course of study. "I'm really interested in kinesiology and the way the body moves, which is sports-related still, physical therapy and that kind of realm, he said. "At Stanford, that's under the human biology major in human performance."
Richards reports that while he hasn't decided upon a timeline, he knows some key criteria that will drive his college decision.
"I'll look at academics and possible majors, and where I'll fit best," he said. "I'll look at positives and negatives. I'd like decent weather, but the schools that have offered all have great weather. A big thing is different positions, because some have offered as a receiver, some as an H back, running back, corner, so where do I feel most comfortable? And then there's the reputation of the school academically and athletically, and that's my criteria."
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!