Richardson optimistic about sixth year of eligibility

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Saturday, March 10, 2018
Arkansas defensive back Kevin Richardson walks toward the sideline during a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas defensive back Kevin Richardson walks toward the sideline during a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.

— Arkansas feels like it is going to have a much better secondary this season than last, but it could get even more of a boost if things fall the Razorbacks' way later this spring.

Redshirt senior Kevin Richardson - who has played all five positions in the secondary - is optimistic about getting a sixth year of eligibility if a projected NCAA rule change goes through in April.

Richardson redshirted in 2013 and played only one game in 2016 after tearing a pectoral muscle in the season opener. He is going through non-contact drills in a green jersey this spring while waiting to hear from the NCAA. He is eligible to practice because he is enrolled in classes.

“I am optimistic about it,” Richardson said after Saturday’s fifth practice of the spring. “I went to a (Student-Athlete Advisory Council) meeting where we talked about rule changes, not just SEC rule changes, but changes across the board. That was something I had a question about because I saw it on the agenda of things we are going to go over and I was just waiting for that one to come up and asked about it."

The proposed rule change would allow those who redshirted and then had an injury early in a season to petition for a hardship year.

Current rules dictate that a player can only receive a sixth year if they missed multiple seasons of eligibility because of reasons beyond their control. A non-injury redshirt season does not qualify under a lengthy definition of reasons for a sixth year.

“It is just a waiting game to me,” Richardson said. “The last thing goes through in April. I think the administration votes on it and then compliance from every conference. So it is like at this big meeting in April. That will be like the last process of it.”

Richardson is working at the nickel-sam position this spring, which is a hybrid outside linebacker and inside cover spot in defensive coordinator John Chavis’ scheme.

“I love it,” Richardson said. “It is a different feeling, especially guys in the back getting to go out and play the way they want to play. You have got guys up front that can play, four-down guys up front that can make plays and we have a lot of them that can.

“That puts the linebackers in better position to make plays and the DBs get to play they want to play in the back end. I think it is comfortable for everybody.”

Richardson likes what he has seen from new head coach Chad Morris and his staff.

“Just to be able to experience this (is good), a new staff,” Richardson said, “with some fresh faces…guys that are looking to make a bigger impact and coming out every day and making plays. It’s just interesting to me how people react to a brand new staff.”

Chavis is Richardson’s third defensive coordinator in as many years.

“I call him 'Chief,' and a lot of people have started calling him 'Chief' and he has a lot of energy on the sideline,” Richardson said. “(Former coordinators Paul Rhoads and Robb Smith) are different kind of guys have a different kind of energy. Chief has a different energy as well that we kind of feed off that in how you feed off your coordinator. He presents himself to the defense and has lot of great energy.”

Arkansas has moved Kamren Curl to safety after he started last season as a true freshman at cornerback when starter Ryan Pulley went down in the season opener. It was the same injury Richardson suffered in the season opener a year before.

Arkansas has Santos Ramirez and Curl at the safety spots, and Pulley and Chevin Calloway at the corners.

“It is huge really,” Richardson said. “You can put another one on the field with playing experience and it is giving Chevin more time (in practice). It’s putting more experience back there at safety and Kam can go back there and has Santos back there that can help him out. He knows what it is like in the back end.

“With Pulley coming back, Chevin getting more playing time, the move of Kam and Santos and myself, there is a lot of people who have played and that will be helpful to have more people with experience back there.”

Richardson is a fan of Pulley, who he spoke with right after the injury.

“Pulley is a grown man, truly a grown man out there playing with boys with his capabilities and everything he has,” Richardson said. “He has got more confidence in himself than all of us do in him and we have a lot of confidence in him. Pulley, I don’t even feel like he was fazed by the injury. He was just anxious to get back like I was.

“I told him when it (the injury) happened how long the process was going to be and how tough it was going to be, but I knew he was going to come back and bounce back and make the plays on the field. It was just a matter of y’all going out there and seeing him play on the field.”

An injured shoulder has kept Richardson from contact drills this spring.

“I had tweaked my shoulder, y’all knew about that all last year when I would come in with ice bags and stuff,” Richardson said. “I just tweaked my shoulder and got it fixed up. I am almost cleared for that (contact) so it is just a little bit more time.

“I am still lifting and learning the ends and outs of the whole defense and having the experience of just being around this staff and a feel of everything going on.

“I am ready and they know what I can do on from the field. It’s just a waiting game. They know I have playing time and experience so it is just a matter of what they believe I can do.”


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