Before They Were Pros: T Antonio Richardson

Antonio Richardson said before the draft he thought he would be a top-25 pick. He went undrafted, since then saying it was because of a knee injury that scared off teams. See what else he had to say at the NFL Scouting Combine before the Vikings signed him as an undrafted rookie, including his lofty NFL goals.

What's it like to go through the combine experience with several teammates?
"It's a blessing. I've seen the work they've put in since Day 1. I came out as a junior, but they put in the work for four years and it's paying off for them."

You have some good offensive linemen. Does it make you wonder why you didn't win more games?
"It's one of those thing where it's a team effort. You can't put it on one player or one group."

Some GMs say they do worry about the maturity of some young guys coming out early. Do you think that will be a problem for you?
"Mentally and physically I'm ready. This is what I've worked for my whole life. I have been doing everything I can. I didn't train in
Florida; I trained in Minnesota to isolate myself."

Do you think the coaching changes will help you adjust to life in the NFL?
"I was there for three years and I had three different offensive line coaches and I adjusted well so I don't think that will be an issue for me."

How is the Combine experience?
"It's surreal. I'm just soaking every moment. From the workouts to even the stuff we don't like doing because you only get to go through a combine once."

What do you people say to you when they find out your nickname is Tiny?
"They say that's very ironic because you're not tiny. That's kind of my trademark because people have been calling me that since high school."

What do you want your trademark to be in the NFL?
"I want my trademark to be a hard worker, a guy who comes to work every day. I want to click up with an older guy, a veteran to learn how to become a better pro. The goal is to be All-Pro, the goal is to be in the Hall of Fame some day, but you have to take baby steps to get there."

What do you want to showcase in the drills?
"Footwork, hand speed. I want to show guys I can run and move in space, show guys I'm healthy."

Would it mean something to play for Titans or is it really any franchise?
"At this point it would be any franchise, but if you get a chance to go back home … there's nothing like the love you get back home.
The love I get in Knoxville and the love I get in Nashville playing for Tennessee is crazy. So, to go back home would be great."

Who first called you Tiny?
"When I first transferred … in the 10th grade they started calling me Tiny and it kind of stayed with me."

How big were you?
6-5, 310.

How big was the guy who called you Tiny?
It was a girl and she was every bit of 5-2, 100 pounds.

Other nicknames?
"I have a friend who calls me Fat Boy Slim and some friends call me Black Italian because Antonio is an Italian name. I put all those names in my Instagram."

Four Tennessee offensive linemen at Combine?
"You look at the film this year and it was very inconsistent at times, but a great offensive line. But if you combine the 2012 and 2013 offensive lines and it's easily one of the top offensive lines in Tennessee history in my opinion. We worked our butts off and through all the adversity we stuck together and it's a brotherhood, a bond that will never be broken. It's great to see all the guys here."

Where do think you will go in the draft?
"I'm a first rounder."

Will you be disappointed if it doesn't happen or do you plan on it being the case?
"I plan on it being the case. If push comes to shove I'm still blessed. If I would fall into the second round, only
two percent get to do this so it's a blessing either way."

Are you saying that because you're that confident or you've gotten feedback?

What about playing against Clowney?
"Scouts and teams and GMs are looking at more than who won the matchup here and who won the matchup there. They look at the way you compete.
I played Clowney, me and him were competing very tough. This year, he caught me a couple of times and I caught him a couple of times."

What did it mean to finally win a big game like that (South Carolina) after coming so close so many times?
"It meant everything … Just to get that signature win for Coach (Butch) Jones set the tone for where this program is going.

Height and weight here?
"6-6, 336. But I had 16 percent body fat, which is a testament to how hard I'm working. They did it yesterday and they said they
never seen anyone (with that fat) at that weight before."

Any change in diet?
"Me, my whole life I just ate. I never took protein or Creatine or things of that nature. I know I'm not going to be
playing at 336. … At the NFL I'll play in the 320s. That weight will come off because I'm not taking any more Creatine."

On Jake Matthews
"We are two different types of athletes. Jake had the same offensive line coach for four years. Jake is more of a slimmer guy, fit for more of a zone system that they ran at Texas A&M. Me, I'm a big, powerful guy fit for a power system. Me, I'm an athlete. I can play in any system. For him to play in that system for so many years with the body type that he has, he really excelled. I'm happy for him as well."

Pay attention to mock drafts?
"Some people have brought up some stuff to me recently, but I don't care about mock drafts."

Where do you think you will go in the draft?
"I think I will be in the top 25."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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