"I was in the Navy for 8 years, and I was one of the first responders to the tsunami in Indonesia. That experience is hard to put into words. I was a dental and medical technician, and I also assisted with recovery. I saw some things that are pretty hard to forget. It was definitely a life-changing event. Then I had about a week to relax before serving in Iraq."
Fast forward to southern Baghdad.
"I was sitting in a mess hall and watching arena football on satellite TV when a 500-pound bomb went off. It was so close I could feel the vibrations. Since then, I can't watch arena football without remembering that moment. As a soldier, you tend to expect the worse. I honestly didn't think I'd make it home alive."
So how does one go from a tsunami to a war and end up in college football? "One day we were playing some ball at Camp Pendleton. A recruiter saw me and suggested I try out for Mt. San Jacinto's football team. The rest, as they say, is history."
Due to his family's relocation during high school, Richardson didn't play his senior year. And last year, after concluding his military obligations and matriculating at Mt. San Jacinto, he didn't get much playing time there either. What makes him think he'll have a breakout season?
"Well, I bench 315 and my 40 time is around 4.5. I played some quarterback in high school, and that helps me recognize the coverages. But beyond that, I believe I have the right attitude. I know what it means to be a leader, to work hard, and to give 100% every time I put on the pads. I mean, how many wide receivers do you know whose favorite play is the crack back block?" Fair point. And his favorite player?
"My favorite player is Heinz Ward of the Steelers. He does everything well. He's so versatile."
Through two games this season Romell has 4 receptions for 69 yards and Mt. San Jacinto is undefeated.
When he's not studying dentistry or his playbook, Richardson likes to ride his Honda 1000. His hero off the field is his mom, whom he's hoping will be able to see a game or two this season if she can make the trip from Chicago. With 3 years left of eligibility to play 2, Richardson has had conversations with San Diego St., but this wide out is keeping his future options wide open. "I'll play anywhere. I'd play in another country if I had to."
Fortunately, that won't be necessary. You've done your duty, sailor.