Richardson staying at VanderbiltBy Jeremy Smith Published 7:44pm Friday, January 14, 2011
NASHVILLE — He heard from National Football League scouts, the Commodores’ new coaching staff and his family before reaching a decision.
After weeks of deliberation, Linden High School alumnus Sean Richardson will remain at Vanderbilt for his senior season.
“It’s an opportunity to get a great education at Vanderbilt,” Richardson, a Human Organizational Development major on the Health and Human Services tracks, said.
Richardson heard plenty of assessments from scouts before making up his mind, but ultimately boiled his decision down to one thing: his desire to get better.
“Speaking with the new coaches and sitting down and talking to my family about it, we determined it would be best for me to stay in school,” Richardson said Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours from the deadline to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Richardson, a 6-2, 215-pound junior safety, led the Commodores in tackles in 2010, recording 98 total stops and a sack in addition to breaking up five passes.
“They said I was a great sized safety and I was fast and physical,” Richardson said of the word he received from NFL scouts. “They said that if I stayed one more year, that would enhance my productivity as a whole.”
That productivity in 2011 will be key for Richardson, who has started in the Commodore secondary for two seasons, but has yet to record an interception in his career.
A hand injury his sophomore year impeded his opportunity to record a pick, but his junior season saw him display less than stellar ball skills.
“They said I covered well, I just needed to start catching the ball,” Richardson said of what the Commodores’ new coaching staff told him. “I had a few dropped interceptions.”
With his immediate future decided, Richardson now sets his mind upon improving himself as he tries to help the Commodores get back to a bowl game for the first time since his freshman year.
That season, Vanderbilt defeated Boston College in the Music City Bowl, a game in which Richardson recovered a BC fumble on a punt to score the Commodores’ only touchdown of the game.
His focus this offseason will largely involve catching the football.
Scouts had little criticism regarding his size, speed, athletic ability, tackling or cover skills. Still, it is when the ball is in the air in 2011 that will most determine if and where Richardson goes in the 2012 NFL Draft.
To put himself in the best position possible as he readies for next season, Richardson will spend much of the next several months working with Vanderbilt’s wide receivers. He said his workouts will include catching 100 balls a day.
Opting to pass up on a chance to play in the NFL this year, means Richardson gets to finish what he started at Vanderbilt.
“It’s a great experience just being here,” Richardson said. “The players are like a family and the education is really important.”
More than anything, Richardson’s decision will allow him to obtain a degree from a well-regarded university.
“If football doesn’t work out, I’ll have a degree from Vanderbilt,” Richardson said.