Richardson Works for Summer Sweat Equity

The second set of summer workouts under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph has been considerably tougher than the first, at least in the eyes of one Mountaineer cornerback.

Kent Richardson is using the final weeks before his fifth-year senior season at West Virginia begins to try to prepare for his role on special teams as well as his work as a second-team cornerback.

"(The summer) is going pretty good so far," Richardson said. "I can't complain. I'm lifting, trying to get faster and stronger. I'm working on my conditioning moreso this year because it's going to play a bigger role with me running around and playing different positions, as far as special teams and defense."

While Joseph's belief in the use of shorter sprints for football conditioning (as opposed to more traditional long runs) has been a topic of discussion for some, Richardson said the second-year strength coach's definition of "short" may not be the same as that of fans or players.

"The first few weeks, we did these 175 (yard) sprints," said Richardson. "It's not a jog. It's timed, so it's not like you can walk it."

For that reason and others, the Tallahassee, Fla., native is looking forward to the arrival of incoming freshmen when the second summer term begins in three weeks.

"You want to get them here, because when they're not here, it's like all of the focus is still on the upperclassmen, and they run us to death," Richardson said. "When the freshmen get here, it's like the focus is more on getting them in the system or whatever. Right now, it's kind of hectic."

The fact that the difficulty of the work is worth mention from Richardson, who was a Florida high school state champion in both sprinting and weightlifting, speaks to just how hard the work actually is.

"I feel like it gets tougher as it goes along with the coaches," the senior said. "With strength and conditioning, it's 10 times harder than it was last summer, just because he understands everybody and how we operate. He knows how far we need to go and how far he needs to push us."

That shared misery gives the Mountaineer players an extra opportunity to come together as a unit in the summer.

"Team-wise, I feel like things have been going pretty good," Richardson said. "We're all coming in and gelling together. Up here in the summer when it's just us, we have more time to bond and become one."

That team unity reflects itself in multiple ways.

As per usual, players are organizing drills to be done, since the team's coaches are not allowed to work with their players in the summer. Richardson said 7-on-7 drills involving offensive and defensive skill position players are to begin this week.

"We have enough upperclassmen that understand how important that is, so we all get that together without a problem," he said.

But in a more personal way, small groups of players have gotten the chance to bond through Joseph's use of once-weekly yoga sessions for stretching purposes.

"It's just us in there, so if you feel girly, then we all probably feel girly," said Richardson. "We're all in there together."

After getting past any initial awkwardness with the yoga workouts themselves, Richardson said the benefits are worth working for.

"The yoga really helps, because you really need to be flexible to play this sport," he explained. "It makes you faster and strengthens everything when you're flexible. (The yoga work) is football-specific. She asks us what we might need to work on and where we're tight around -- hips, thighs. We'll stretch that out and do different stuff."

Beyond that, Richardson said he will continue to work personally on his shuffling technique, using his arms to jam opposing receivers and keeping his hips open to allow him to move around more quickly and fluidly while covering opposing receivers.

"There's a drill in the weight room we do with these (resistance) bands that will help you open your hips up and build hamstring power," he said.

Richardson said he understands that the work players do in the summer can translate directly to how they play in the fall. With his final season in front of him, the cornerback seems prepared to do what it takes now to contribute as best he can when the season begins.

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