Richardson eager for camp to begin
July 12, 2010
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Forget "Less is More" when it comes to a player like Sean Richardson. He might prefer, "More Despite Less." Or, given the muscle he's put on, "More is More."
As a first-year starter in 2009, Richardson had to play through pain and without a veteran safety nearby. Despite lacking experience and full health, he still produced more than expected.
And now, after his finest offseason program, the junior strong safety is ready for more action.
The 6-foot-2-inch Richardson arrived on campus weighing 185 pounds. Two years later, he now tips the scales at 218 and hasn't lost a step in becoming one of the Southeastern Conference's brightest defensive performers.
So bring on the upcoming season.
"We can't wait to get back out there as a team, as one unit, and just practice hard and work to be as good as we can be," Richardson said.
Picking up where multi-year safety starter Reshard Langford left off, Richardson put up 84 tackles in 2009, including 4.5 for loss and 43 solo, second-best on the team. Among his season highlights were a critical forced fumble against Mississippi State that led to a tying field goal for Vanderbilt and an 11-tackle performance against Kentucky that earned him the team's Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Richardson credits Vanderbilt strength and conditioning coach John Sisk with putting him through an aggressive regimen to allow him to attain his formidable size. If Richardson continues to progress, Commodore coaches believe they will have a future pro prospect on their hands.
"I work hard in the weight room," Richardson said. "The things coach (Sisk) has you do pushes you so hard. He gives you a workout plan, tells us what to eat and not to eat, and how to gain weight, maintain weight or lose weight. That's coming from an experienced conditioning coach."
While many on the Vanderbilt roster have enjoyed the luxury of a redshirting season, some have simply been too good out of high school to use as scouts at practice. Richardson is such a player, one of only nine players on the current roster to have not redshirted. Other recent players whose talent led to immediate playing time include All-Americans D.J. Moore and Earl Bennett.
Being thrust into the line of fire immediately had its bumps. Last season, Richardson had the initial fortune of a more experienced compatriot in the defensive backfield, playing next to three-year starter and co-captain Ryan Hamilton. Just five quarters into the season, Hamilton went down with a season-ending chest injury at LSU.
"All of the sudden you've got to be that leader," Richardson said. "It was kind of tough, but as the season went on, I got better at being a leader and being more vocal. It was tough at the beginning, but I learned out there."
Richardson suffered a tough injury of his own early in the year, tearing a tendon in his thumb at Rice. Despite undergoing surgery two days later, he played in every game, and eventually finished with 10 starts.
Richardson earned the team's coveted Hustle Award at season's end for his efforts, just as Langford achieved the prior year. Richardson had a big impact as a true freshman, capped by making perhaps the most significant play of the 2008 season.
In a defensive struggle at the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, it was clear just one big play could make the difference. Vanderbilt's opportunity came when Brett Upson's rugby punt bounced off Boston College's Paul Anderson in the third quarter, but someone had to fall on the ball as it rolled toward the end zone in order to capitalize.
Who do you think emerged from a pile of Commodores in the end zone with six points Vanderbilt would need every bit of in a 16-14 win? It was a true freshman - Richardson - holding the football high at LP Field.
"I told coach, wherever you put me on the field, I'm always going to try to help the team win," Richardson said. "As long as I was on the field, helping the team win and get better, I was willing to do it."
And ready and willing for more going forward.