|Detroit, MI – 5'9", 165|
|Scout||4*, #14 CB, #183 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #18 CB, #224 overall|
|ESPN||4*, 81, #5 CB, #68 overall|
|24/7||4*, 95, #12 CB, #142 overall|
|Other Suitors||Oklahoma, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama, LSU, USC etc.|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Ace takes in Cass Tech games against De La Salle, OLSM, and Farmington Hills Harrison. Tim interviews him. Tim Hello post.|
|Notes||Cass Tech (all the people). Played in UA game. Lemming had him top 50.|
Terry Richardson is the short-ish to unbelievably short cornerback who comes out of Cass Tech every year.
Oh, fine. Here's all this other stuff.
Yea, Cass Tech did go unto Olympus and ask the gods for power unlike any Detroit high school had seen. And the Gods said to Cass Tech, "we will grant you a boon, but all things have a price." Cass Tech readily agreed. The gods provided a phone-booth-sized black cube with black trim and no reflective properties whatsoever. It came with a red button. Thomas Wilcher was instructed to press it at 3:30 PM every June 13th, whereupon a black door that was not there would slide upwards and a smurfy but unbelievably agile guy would stride out, covered in gross amniotic goo.
Cass Tech won a state championship last year. The price was watching all those smurfy corner types go off to college and not do much.
- 2008: Boubacar Cissoko is a top 50 player who heads to Michigan. He doesn't play well, possibly because he's going a little loopy, then gets in a bunch of legal trouble and ends up in jail.
- 2009: Teric Jones may be a running back, may be a defensive back, is definitely really small, starts at RB, gets moved to corner, gets moved back to RB, eventually stops playing football.
- 2010: Dior Mathis is a top 250-type guy who heads off to Oregon, where he's appeared in five games so far.
- 2011: Delonte Holowell goes to Michigan, where he types all-caps tweets and sees a little time as a freshman.
It's possible Mathis or Holowell will break through but their height (they are the smurfiest of the bunch at maybe 5'8" each) makes it hard to see either being a star; Richardson and 2013 commit Jourdan Lewis have yet to give it a shot.
So there's this background of skepticism about Terry Richardson because Michigan's taken the above plus a number of other Cass Tech guys over the years and only Thomas Gordon has really worked out. Even the generally rapturous coach quotes on offer are toned down. Wilcher:
"I think Terry is learning. He's learning what a big-time player's got to be. I think that if Terry keeps working, he'll be all right."
The recruiting sites do not share this skepticism, ranking Richardson higher than any of the recent Cass Tech defensive backs save Cissoko. Neither did college coaches, which pounded his mailbox with early offers. Richardson had all of the above offers a year before he put pen to paper. While the outlying offers may have been "visit and we'll offer (probably)" type deals, Richardson was four for four amongst Midwest powers. Coaches also thought he was legit.
Yes, despite the size. All scouting reports filed mention his size as a negative. Picking one at random, this from Scout's evaluations($) at the Under Armor game:
Richardson has some very quick feet and he may not be the tallest or biggest defensive back in this event, this young man can cover. He flips his hips well, he stays on balance, and he made great breaks on the ball on day two.
This evaluation is repeated everywhere. Trieu:
Not the biggest corner, but one who makes up for it with his understanding of the game, quickness and ball skills. Does a nice job of playing the ball in the air, and high points it, which helps him get over his lack of height.
Terry Richardson (Cass Tech CB/WR #9, 2012 commit): Richardson's coverage was a big reason why Shane Morris could never find a rhythm, as he was consistently right in the pocket of the receiver he was tasked with covering. … Though Richardson had been battling a leg injury since the regular season finale, and spent much of warmups on his own testing out the leg, he looked just fine once the game started, exhibiting the speed and hip swivel that make him a four-star corner prospect despite his small stature. He was also strong in run support, tallying four tackles, including a textbook wrap-up in space on a play that got to the outside quickly—he was alone on an island, but managed to drive through the ballcarrier and keep him from gaining any extra yards.
Ace's in-person guess at Richardson's height is 5'8".
You get the idea. If you don't get the idea, these links may help.
- Trieu again($): "showed the same quick feet, hips and aggressiveness we have touted him for for the last few years. For a guy who isn't as big, he does not back down from anyone and plays right up in receivers faces. "
- Tom Lemming: "Forget his lack of height. With his anticipation, timing and vertical leap, Richardson can play with any CB in the country. Explosive and confident, he‘s a lockdown corner and a five-star player with the ability to become a standout as a true freshman."
- ESPN: "Richardson lacks obvious size but plays and competes much bigger. … Knows where he is on the field with great awareness skills and soundly reads the quarterback, routes develop and expertly anticipates the pass. …Has tight, polished footwork. Very fluid and light in and out of his pedal and breaks underneath extremely quick without wasted steps in his transition. Closes the cushion extremely fast out on the perimeter with great quickness…. The area of concern when projecting for the college level is his size and ability to press, defend the jump ball and set the edge as a run supporter."
- 24/7: "Michigan commit Terry Richardson has to deal with size issues as well …. Richardson was in attendance on Saturday and he met his expectations. He has an ability to seamlessly turn his hips and change direction in coverage and when he has to turn on his burners, he can absolutely accelerate with any receiver.
If you're still confused about the composite of all Cass Tech cornerbacks, you may be the composite of all Buckeye fans. Stop tilting your head.
So… yeah. As a terrific athlete who can stick to receivers in space but is ill-equipped to take on a fullback, tight end, or galloping Wisconsin tailback, Richardson is a quintessential "field" corner. This means he lines up to the wide side of the field, a role Blake Countess took over last year. Richardson's been told that's where he he's headed, with a detour at nickelback possible:
Role at Michigan: "Well, to me personally, playing corner is just playing corner - I don't believe in any field side corner or the boundary corner. My role is to lock on the best receivers and shut them down. But pretty much they want me playing like the field corner - and maybe some nickel back, too - but pretty much field corner and punt returns/kick returns."
He'll slot in behind Avery and Countess. If he beats out either it's time to pop the champagne. He may pass Holowell and/or Taylor, depending on what Michigan does with their other guys. Talbott's evidently moved to field corner; Michigan may slide Taylor over there too to get more info on what should be a heated position battle in 2013.
As for the future, at some point you have to get over the heebie-jeebies about previous guys and look at Terry Richardson as just Terry Richardson, the guy everyone wanted and has exactly one drawback. He's a nice bullet to have in the chamber.
Etc.: Wilcher did get in a more typical coach quote:
"He's a great kid to be with, a great kid to talk to," Wilcher said of Richardson. "He's a great kid to be around, the kind of kid you want to love as a son. So that's where you get a chance to get the nurturing in, and that's where it comes in, to try to make him a better player, a better person."
Why Courtney Avery? Avery and Richardson have the same sort of frame, and while Richardson is higher regarded Avery has significantly outperformed his ranking to date. As a high school quarterback who played very little defense Avery was not well-scouted.
Avery's an excellent underneath corner with the quickness to get under slant routes but a lack of size makes him a guy you try to shelter from one-on-one matchups against the Michael Floyds of the world—you know, the ones Cissoko had no prayer against. It sounds like Richardson may be a bit faster, a bit quicker to react, and more likely to emerge into a starter on the outside, but he's going to seem a lot like Avery.
Guru Reliability: Very high. Healthy, projects to same position in college he did in high school, ton of camps, UA appearance, heavily scouted school. Only slightly negative indicator is a little spread in the rankings thanks to ESPN's excitement. That may be (read: is) a UA game effect.
Variance: Low. He's not going to get any taller and has few boom/bust indicators.
Ceiling: High. Like Jarrod Wilson, Richardson hovers around a B+/A- ceiling. The height, yes, the height. Seems to have everything else.
General Excitement Level: If you'd never heard of Boubacar Cissoko in your life everyone would be saying high, so: high. No reason to project that unfortunate trajectory on another kid. Richardson comes guru- and coach-approved.
Projection: Despite the minor twitter controversy launched when Richardson angrily denounced the idea of redshirting, he should probably spend a year watching. Without a year of weights and scout team action he'll be the same sort of olé-style tackler Avery was as a freshman. Meanwhile, Michigan returns both starting cornerbacks, their quality nickelback, Holowell, Raymon Taylor, and a rejuvenated Terrence Talbott.
With Richardson destined for field corner or nickelback he's not going to be a serious contender to replace JT Floyd in 2013, so the thing that makes the most sense is to let Michigan's six-deep* corners carry the load in 2012 and give Richardson another year of separation from Countess. This thinking may be Richardson's now as well:
Forced choice: special teams only or redshirt: "That's a real good question because I think that might be a high possibility and for me to consider my options. Well, honestly, if Coach Hoke needs me out there - I'll do it. But other than that, if I can have more time and get my body together and learn the system, then by next year I'd be ready to go. But it all depends on what Coach Hoke would want."
Richardson's best bet to avoid a redshirt would be winning a return job. Jeremy Gallon's back, so fielding punts seems unlikely. Meanwhile, the new kickoff rules may make returners not particularly relevant.
*[Thank you, Jesus.]