Kevin Richardson 'living the dream' after sitting out '16 season

By: Jimmy Carter
Published: Monday, July 10, 2017
Arkansas defensive back Kevin Richardson II speaks during the Southeastern Conference's annual media gathering, Monday, July 10, 2017, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Arkansas defensive back Kevin Richardson II speaks during the Southeastern Conference's annual media gathering, Monday, July 10, 2017, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

— Shortly after announcing his intention to walk-on at Arkansas, Kevin Richardson read an article online about the decision.

It included details about Richarsdon, an in-state defensive back from Jacksonville. It included a highlight video. It also included comments below the story.

A few still stick with him.

“He’s too small.”

“Slap a walk-on on him and put him on the practice squad.”

“It looks like this is in slow motion.”

The last one, in reference to his highlight video, stung a bit.

“I’m like, ‘C’mon, now, I know I’m faster than that,’” Richardson said.

But the comments served a purpose. They helped fuel the 5-foot-11, 185-pounder.

“I said, OK, I’ll just go about handling my business and do what I do,” Richardson said. “Just let my game speak for itself.”

He arrived in Fayetteville in 2013 as an overlooked walk-on in a class that included Alex Collins, Hunter Henry and Denver Kirkland, all of whom now play in the NFL.

Monday, the senior cornerback arrived in Hoover as a team captain and one of three seniors Arkansas coach Bret Bielema handpicked to represent the Razorbacks at SEC Media Days.

He had to overcome his share of adversity to be in that position.

Once he got to college, he overcame being a walk-on to earn a scholarship and become a starter. In the past year, he had to overcome a pectoral injury which ended his junior year in Arkansas’ season opener last fall.

He’s healthy now and projects as the Razorbacks’ nickel back as a fifth-year senior this fall, a valued leader respected by teammates and coaches.

“I didn’t think about doing any of this,” Richardson said. “I was just hoping to play one day and ended up getting a starting spot, earning a scholarship, being voted team captain. Now I’m here at SEC Media Days. That’s something kids from Arkansas dream of doing.

Richardson has six career starts on his resume, including last season’s opener. He has 59 career tackles, three breakups and an interception. He was the lone defensive player Bielema opted to bring to Hoover along with quarterback Austin Allen and center Frank Ragnow.

“(He) just really embodies everything I believe in,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. “He was a little undersized, under-recruited, underdeveloped coming out of high school. We presented him an opportunity to walk on and really in the first two weeks I knew we had something.

“Probably one of the most intelligent football IQ players I’ve ever been around. Plays all five DB positions and is a great leader off the field.”

Bielema has chosen to only bring seniors to media days during his tenure at Arkansas, so none of the Collins, Henry, Kirkland trio ever made the July flight down to Hoover when they were Razorbacks.

Monday, Richardson was there and it was his time to shine. He wasn’t overlooked anymore.

“I’m just living the dream right now,” Richardson said.

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