Richardson Turning Into A Star
By Michael William Krumholtz
Following his record-setting performance in a week two loss to Cal, Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson gained a few more friends. In the social media world, that is.
Still, the sophomore from Gardena, Calif., remembers where his roots lie.
"I had some more follow requests and friend requests (on Facebook and Twitter)," Richardson said. "But my family has just been supportive like they always are, congratulating me and reminding me that I need to stay humble."
The 6-foot-one playmaker caught 11 balls for 284 yards, a school-record, as he raced away from Cal's defensive backfield like prey from its hunter. Therein lies his approach on the unlocked philosophy of receiving.
"Yeah I do have a mindset: don't get hit," Richardson said. "So pretty much I run as fast as I can. I pride myself on (yards after catch)."
Three games into a 1-2 season and CU's leading receiver has 18 catches for 360 yards and four touchdowns. Last week rival CSU held him to 27 yards, despite the Buffs notching their first win.
His remarkable, but not overly surprising, performance coming so early in the season now forces Pac-12 defensive coordinators to key in on him for the remainder of conference play.
"The good thing about that is it puts other guys in single coverage," receivers coach Bobby Kennedy told CUBuffs.com. "It's important for some other guys to step up. Paul's not going to have a game like that every week, but it would be nice."
Richardson's future is boundless, as proved by his designation as the first Buff to ever be named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.
Not unfamiliar with on-field success, CU's young star was brilliant in high school as well.
After three years of attending Los Alamitos High (Los Alamitos, Calif.), his family moved south to Los Angeles County before Richardson's senior season. There, he enrolled at Serra High, where he teamed with current USC receivers Robert Woods and George Farmer. That field was about as lopsided as putting Einstein, Curie, and Edison in a junior high science fair.
But part of the season seemed like a bad dream for Richardson when he was injured. However, his close-up view from the sideline allowed an enlightening lesson.
"Watching their success was very humbling for me, because I came from three previous years where I was the go-to-guy and I expected certain things every weekend out of myself," he said. "Watching them play and having to sit out, it really just taught me a lot (in terms of) not expecting for things to just happen for me."
Throughout his prep career, the dynamic athlete played cornerback, on top of competing on offense. He attributes this wisdom to giving him advantage over those trying to cover his lean, sprinter-like frame.
"(Defensive backs) are usually quicker than receivers, but the receiver has the upper-hand of knowing the route," Richardson said. "So playing DB and me being quick, it helps me because I expect the DB to do one thing and as a receiver I can kind of counter that before he does it."
His head coach has seen this reactionary quickness first hand, but still wanted to lift Richardson's timing to a level of perfection.
Rookie coach Jon Embree watched film of every 2010 game immediately after being hired. He noticed that No. 80 had the talent, but still lacked some fundamentals. So not only did Richardson change his number this offseason - to No. 6 - but he changed his workmanship.
"He is a better route runner," Embree said. "I think he has improved his body control and using his speed and knowing when to burst and when to play at a different speed."
During the second half of the Cal game, the Bears started double-teaming Richardson. A defensive back leaned over to Richardson and admitted they had to do it.
"We didn't really have a game plan for him," Cal corner Steve Williams said afterwards. "We didn't know he was going to be as good as he showed us today."
Opposing defenders are memorizing his name and number in film room preparations. But they aren't the only ones who are tuning in to the birth of a star.
Now, the whole nation is learning his name.