University of Colorado Buffaloes
Los Angeles, California
University of California, Los Angeles Bruins
Junipero Serra High School
Los Alamitos High School
The 2013 season was a success for Richardson, even if he did not produce the finest season of his college career. He played through a painful medial collateral ligament injury during his sophomore season that forced him to sit out four games. The receiver was primed to get the 2012 campaign off to a better start, but in spring camp that year, he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at practice and was forced to miss the season.
Richardson underwent surgery to repair the knee and then needed six months of rehabilitation. He was forced to redshirt and was determined as soon as he got out of the hospital, he would immediately begin preparing to return intact for the 2013 schedule.
"I thought at first he just rolled his ankle, and it turned out to be this," Buffs former head coach Jon Embree said in a news release.
Embree said Richardson was taking his latest knee injury in stride. "He was upbeat. He was in pretty good spirits," Embree said at the time the standout receiver was hurt. "He'll be up and down (emotionally), that's part of the process. It's just unfortunate. It's a shame because he's worked real hard and was doing a great job, both on and off the field, leading by example and improving on all the things he needed to work on."
It was just another "bump in the road" that Richardson had to navigate. His college career had more than a few detours along the way, but in the end, the fourth-year junior emerged as the school's third-best all-time receiver with 156 catches, ranking fifth with 2,412 receiving yards and second with 21 touchdown grabs. He established a school record with three 200-yard receiving performances and his nine 100-yard aerial efforts rank third in school annals.
Fearless for a player his size, Richardson excellent open field acceleration allowed the flanker to beat man coverage often. On the way to setting or tying 29 school marks, he recorded 13 receptions for 50-yards or longer. His 21 touchdown receptions included 11 that went past the 50-yard distance and totaled 841 yards, an average gain of 40.05 yards per scoring grab.
Richardson lettered in football, basketball and track at Los Alamitos High School. He earned a starting receiver job as a sophomore and responded with 31 receptions for 587 yards (18.9 ypc) and eight touchdowns, capping that season with six grabs for 184 yards and the game-winning touchdown in a 13-9 decision over Edison.
As a junior at Los Alamitos, Richardson caught 48 passes for 809 yards and 13 touchdowns, recording four 100-yard games. His top performances came in wins vs. Marina (four catches for 156 yards and three scores) and Narbonne (four for 124 yards and four touchdowns). Los Alamitos would compile an 8-3 record during his junior season and had recorded a 7-3 during his sophomore campaign under head coach John Barnes.
Richardson's family would move after his junior season and he transferred to Serra High School for his final prep season. As a member of the Cavaliers, he earned Prep Star and Super Prep All-American honors, the latter of which ranked him as the 26th-best receiver in the nation and 20th-best player in the Far West region, while Scout.com tabbed him as the 22nd-best receiver in the country and the 20th-best player in the state of California.
He was a member of the Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100, and received votes but fell just shy of honorable mention on the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best-In-West squad. He caught 31 passes for 552 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 17.8 yards per catch, with a pair of 100-yard games.
Serra High finished the 2009 schedule with a 15-0 record under head coach Scott Altenberg, claiming state, CIF Southern Section and Del Ray League titles, as Richardson caught the deciding touchdown pass in his team's 24-17 title game win. Overall in his prep career, he caught 110 passes for 1,948 yards (17.7), with 28 touchdowns and eight 100-yard games.
Richardson also played some defensive back sporadically as a prep, with seven pass deflections, two forced fumbles and two recoveries over three seasons. He also lettered in basketball (point guard) and in track (sprints and relays); where he had careers bests of 10.62 in the 100-meters, 21.0 in the 200 and 40.66 on the first leg of the 4x400.
Richardson originally intended to play for the UCLA Bruins, but was dismissed from the team in June 2010, eventually enrolling at the University of Colorado. Despite his late arrival and having to play "catch up" during fall camp, he earned freshman All-American honors after he gained 514 yards with six touchdowns on 34 receptions (15.1 ypc), as 16 of those grabs were for 10 yards or longer, including six for at least 20 yards.
The following season, the Sophomore All-American was having a banner campaign. He made 29 catches for 474 yards and five touchdowns through the Buffs' first five games, including a sensational 284-yard, 11-reception performance vs. California. In an October 5th practice, he suffered a left knee medial collateral sprain that would sideline him for four games. He would return for the final four contests, but managed just 81 yards on 10 grabs in those clashes.
2012 spring drills would see Richardson again suffer a left knee injury, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. He underwent surgery shortly after and began a season-long rehab process that would see him return with a vengeance in 2013. He captured All-American and All-Pac 12 Conference honors, along with being named the Zack Jordan Award winner as the team's most valuable player during his junior season.
Richardson set school season records for receptions (83) and receiving yards (1,343). His 10 touchdowns were one shy of the mark in averaging 16.2 yards per catch (fifth-highest average at CU for a player with 50 or more receptions). He also recorded two 200-yard performances, leaving the team owning three of the five 200-yard receiving games ever produced by a Colorado player.
The 2013 campaign would be Richardson's last at Colorado. Shortly after the season ended, he announced that he was entering the 2014 NFL Draft. "I am going through with entering next year's NFL draft," the junior said at the team's season-ending news conference. "I had a great experience here at Colorado. I've been through a lot of coaching staffs, but I've had these same teammates, a lot of them for the last four years, and it's been awesome."
Head coach Mike MacIntyre met with Richardson prior to the receiver making his decision. The coach had spent five years as an NFL assistant, but he spent more time talking about life in the league than convincing his star receiver to stay. "He leaves with 29 records, which is really good," MacIntyre said. "One thing I tried to entice him on is he could leave with about 60 if he stayed another year, which would probably never be broken, but I'm excited for Paul. I really am. I'm also sad for us."
Richardson said he made the decision after talking to his family and coaches, including receivers coach Troy Walters, who played in the NFL for eight seasons. Richardson is only three classes from graduating, which he planned on doing during the 2014 spring semester. "It's a tough decision," Richardson said. "Like Coach MacIntyre said, you don't want to be in one place, talking about the NFL, wishing you were in college — and you don't want to be in college, wishing you were in the NFL."
Richardson appeared in 33 games, as the flanker started 25 contests at Colorado, recording 156 receptions for 2,412 yards (15.46 ypc) and 21 touch-downs, as he also threw a 75-yard scoring strike and rushed nine times for 38 yards…