December 7, 2010

Dooley pours it all into Richardson visit

An amplified course load has kept Antonio Richardson rather busy, even since the end of the Nashville prospect's senior season last month.

As a result, Richardson has had to "really prioritize my time. You know how easy it is to get off-track sometimes with work, time to lift, time to relax," Richardson said.

Twice lately the state's top prospect has cleared enough free time to host members of the University of Tennessee coaching staff, including first-year Vols head coach Derek Dooley last week.

And as it turned out, Dooley was right at home in the Richardson's kitchen.

"It was really crazy because he came over, and I wanted them to be comfortable," said the four-star Richardson. "It was almost like it was their house, too. We had some sandwiches and stuff. We were like, 'Let me get you a cup, Coach,' and they were like, 'No, we'll get it.' They just poured their own lemonade and were just comfortable.

"It was almost like they had been there 10 times already. They were really comfortable and down to earth. It was fun and kind of funny. We Joked a little bit and talked some football and talked some life. It was really nice. It was what I would expect from a coach."

Richardson, his humility matched only by his determination to succeed, recently transferred from Ensworth to Pearl-Cohn and ratcheted up his academic demands in the process.

"It's still crazy because of how many classes I have," Richardson said of his daily schedule. "I've got three science classes, English 4, a half-credit of Spanish 2, algebra 2, world history and U.S. Government. It's like I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself because I want my grades to be really good. And I know when it's all over it will pay off."

Just prior to this interview, Richardson had spent several hours after school as he prepared for an upcoming debate in class.

"Coming up I've got a big debate; me and my partner, we're arguing the pros and cons of why law enforcement should be able to carry weapons," said Richardson. "It's a big test grade, so I've got to be ready for it.

"One example I found was a case with this kid, and there was a movie based off it, but the kid was with a policeman and he was pulling something out of his pocket and the policeman thought it was a gun and shot and killed the kid. The kid was pulling out a snow globe. So we give examples and then give our personal opinions and back it up with evidence."

Richardson is looking forward to settling an on-field debate, of sorts, in less than a month. That's when he'll report to San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Richardson has for months counted down until his opportunity to battle daily against his elite peers from around the country.

"I'm looking forward to going against the best guys in the country. I'm looking forward to the competition and to see where I stand against these other guys with high rankings," Richardson said. "See if I'm deserving and they're deserving of the rankings.

"I'm going to have fun, but I'm not going to go there and look bad. I'm going to go there and try to perform."

Beyond that, Richardson talked more about his visits with the Vols' coaches, which have included Dooley, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney a couple of times.

"They were the first people to come and see me. They really made me get that feeling of being wanted," Richardson said. "They showed me how much they wanted me and needed me, but it wasn't just about football. They talked about the advantage for me academically of coming there also with being able to get a job whenever I leave UT because of the alumni nationwide. They talked about that in whatever field I want to study the alumni want to help (former Vols) athletes.

"And they talked about the chance of playing time early. It does (factor into the decision-making process) to a certain extent, but it's not like I'm going to be basing my whole decision off of that."

The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Richardson is a four-star prospect on the offensive line, a top-75 player nationally and the No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee. He has indicated he expects to make a decision on national signing day.

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