May 21, 2011

Richardson loves to improve his game

Cornerback Terry Richardson plays at Cass Tech - a Michigan pipeline - and best friends Royce Jenkins-Stone and James Ross were already on board as U-M commitments in the 2012 class. But Richardson to U-M wasn't a slam dunk ...

"Terry wasn't the same as Royce, who wanted to go to Michigan ever since he was a little boy and couldn't wait to get his offer," Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher said.

"Terry wanted to check out his other options but he just really wanted to know the school he picked was the school that really wanted him the most and Michigan proved that by staying in constant communication."

The 5-9, 160-pounder had offers from Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State and Southern Cal among more than two dozen scholarship tenders and the Trojans were in on him hard, just as the Fighting Irish were.

It wasn't as simple as saying Richardson wanted to play close to home or play with his friends, even though both considerations ultimately helped him reach his decision.

"His parents love Michigan," Wilcher said. "His dad has had a U-M license plate for years and just thinks the school and the football program are the best there is.

"And when you have two friends going there - not just friends but best friends - you have this rare opportunity, and that was just one more reason he couldn't pass on Michigan."

A member of The Detroit News All-Metro first-team in 2010, Richardson had 12 interceptions defensively to go along with 35 tackles. Offensively, he had 12 receptions for 400 yards and five touchdowns.

Wilcher understands there is a perception that Cass Tech grads fall short of expectations - though it's still too early to label Will Campbell, Teric Jones and Thomas Gordon (especially the latter) as disappointments - but he's confidence Richardson will be a significant contributor.

"I think he's someone that could play in a dime or nickel package as a freshman," Wilcher said. "Then as he gains strength and adjusts more to the college game, he could become a guy the defensive coaches don't have to worry about for three years because he's just going to shut it down on his side of the field.

"He has tremendous instincts. He's starting to read players so well because he studies the game. He knows that when the quarterback settles his feet, he's getting ready to throw and that's when you have to make your move as a cornerback.

"A lot of players are just running with a receiver and they're a little caught off guard when the ball arrives, but if they're in good position they can still make a play. Terry's different, he doesn't just eye his man. He splits his gaze and he knows when the ball is coming and then he has great hands so if the ball is near him he's going to make a play on it."

A four-star prospect - Michigan's fifth in this class - and the No. 195 prospect in the nation, Richardson is not without faults. He needs to add weight to his slight frame and he has some gains to make in press coverage but he'll work to improve his game and turn his weaknesses into strengths.

"He'll gain weight, 20-25 pounds once he gets on campus, and he's going to soak up every piece of instruction those coaches give him because he loves to learn and wants to be the best player he can be," Wilcher said.

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