Once the team’s starting outside linebacker last season, Richardson’s role has expanded to include many hats in 2012. Through five games this season for the Yellow Jackets, Richardson has seen action at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, outside linebacker, inside linebacker and strong safety. He’s also involved in all phases of special teams, giving new meaning to the term “48-minute man.”
“He’s really a kind of jack-of-all-trades for us,” Sprayberry coach Billy Shackelford said. “I’m convinced he would drive the bus and tape ankles if we asked him to do it. He’s just that talented. He’s a dynamic kid that when he gets the football in his hands, he can do a lot of things with it.”
Sprayberry will need all of Richardson’s talents tonight when the Yellow Jackets (1-4, 0-0) host Riverwood (5-1, 0-1) in a subregion 7AAAAA (B) clash at Jim Frazier Stadium.
“We’ve put him everywhere,” Shackelford said. “He’s a great athlete and helps in certain spots. He’s kind of a hybrid player we can move around a lot.”
In only his second year on varsity, Richardson, a senior, sat out his sophomore season per Georgia High School Association rules after transferring to the school from Camden County. He played defense last season, but moved over to the offensive side of the ball after taking with Shackelford prior to the season.
“Last year, I didn’t play any offense,” Richardson said. “I was just on defense playing outside linebacker. When coach sat me down and told me what he wanted to do with me on offense, I was nervous at first. I hadn’t played offense since the seventh grade.
“I didn’t want to let the team down. So, if it was what coach thought was best, I did it. I did it to help the team.”
Richardson has made the most of his opportunities on offense. He’s the team’s scoring leader with seven touchdowns, and leads the Yellow Jackets with 407 yards rushing on 59 carries.
“I’m kind of surprised I’m doing so well on offense,” Richardson said. “I didn’t think I could run the ball like that. I expected to have some success on defense, but what I’ve done on offense is a surprise.
Richardson credits the offensive line, running backs and wide receivers for helping him become a better offensive player.
“My team and offensive line have really helped,” he said. “The running backs and wide receivers have been big too. Blocking without them, I don’t have a lot of success running the ball.
Since I don’t throw much when I play quarterback, teams expect me to run. So, when I come in, they’re blitzing, and without good blocking, I can’t make good plays.”
Playing as many positions as Richardson does could be taxing, but he had a lot of training over the summer to prepare him for his new role.
“There was a lot of conditioning over the summer, so playing all of these positions hasn’t been a problem,” he said. “But it has been hard to learn the positions. I’ve studied a lot from the playbook, so that’s been the toughest part.”
It’s only natural that Richardson’s favorite position is outside linebacker since that’s where he’s played for so long and it’s the position he’s most used to. However, he’s enjoyed playing his roles on offense as well because it means he gets to be on the field more often.
That added visibility has also helped lead him to college scouts.
“I’m getting looks from some good programs like Fort Valley State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Jacksonville State,” Richardson said. ‘So, I’m happy about that.
“But, right now, my goal is to just have a successful year, and help the team make a deep playoff run.”