Tag Archives: Sheldon Richardson

Michael Sam in spotlight at Missouri’s football pro day

By The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Michael Sam certainly draws a crowd.

Scouts from more than 30 NFL teams, fans and media packed Missouri’s training facilities Thursday to watch the former Tigers defensive end and 14 of his former teammates at the school’s annual pro day.

A little over a month since Sam announced his desire to become the first openly gay NFL player, he lifted 225 pounds 19 times, ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.69 seconds and jumped 30 inches — all improvements from his statistics at the NFL combine last month. He also raised eyebrows after tweaking his right hamstring during the run.

“Just a little sore,” his agent Joe Barkett said.

With television cameras following his every move, the 6-2, 263-pound Sam stretched while teammates performed the 3-cone and short shuttle drills, and returned for the vertical jump and linebacker workouts.

One of his fans in attendance was Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who left Missouri last year. Richardson wished him the best in the NFL but said the draft hopeful could wind up hearing some homophobic jokes in the pros.

“It is what it is,” Richardson said. “You hear every kind of joke – racist jokes, everything in the NFL locker room. That’s what happens when you’re a family. Nothing bothers you. Only those people can talk about you. No one else outside the locker room.”

Sam is pegged to be picked in the lower rounds of the NFL draft, if at all, much lower than fellow defensive end Kony Ealy.

On his second and final attempt, Ealy ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial 4.57 seconds, only four-hundredths of a second slower than Jadeveon Clowney’s time at the combine. The school announced the time, which would be a considerable improvement over the 4.92 seconds Ealy posted at the combine.

Ealy also posted a 32-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot broad jump.

Ealy hopes to become the seventh first-round NFL draft pick from Missouri in the past six years following Richardson last April. The 6-feet-4-inch, 265-pound end described Richardson as a mentor.

“Having a guy like that, an older guy going through all the ropes, somebody I can relate to, it means a lot,” he said. “I can easily relate to him.”

While much of the attention surrounded the two defensive ends, the workouts gave other players a chance to show off their skills in front of scouts from every team except the Redskins, according to the NFL Network.

“I think it’s very important,” quarterback James Franklin said. “It’s really helpful. In high school, it’s kind of how I started to get recruited. Scouts would go there for other teams or college coaches would go there for other players, and then they would see me there. And that’s kind of how I got attention.”

Franklin ran an unofficial 4.9-second 40-yard dash on his second attempt, while receiver L’Damian Washington paced the field with an unofficial 4.39-second mark.

Asked about the challenge in preparing for May’s draft, Washington mentioned the difficulty in turning the page so quickly from a 12-win season. He’s recovering from what he described as an inflamed nerve in his feet, and says he is “90 percent.”

Washington hopes the injury won’t prevent him from fulfilling his dreams of becoming an NFL player.

“It’s a four- or five-month job interview,” he said. “And no matter what, you have to watch everything you do, watch everything you say, because it’s going to be out there.”

Mizzou’s Richardson picked by NY Jets, looking for championship

By the Associated Press

Sheldon Richardson

Sheldon Richardson

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets picked Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson with the 13th overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.

The Jets and coach Rex Ryan loaded up on defense in the first round after also taking Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with the No. 9 pick. New York acquired the 13th pick from Tampa Bay for cornerback Darrelle Revis on Sunday.

Richardson was acquired from Tampa Bay along with a conditional fourth-round selection in next year’s draft.

Unlike with the Jets’ choice Milliner, which was met raucous cheers, the selection of Richardson drew scattered boos and even a few “Who?” comments.

“I’m here to bring a championship back to New York,” Richardson said.

Richardson, who’s 6-foot-2 and 294 pounds, is an athletic run-stuffing lineman who had 79 tackles last season for Missouri. He adds depth to a defensive front that includes two other first-rounders in Muhammad Wilkerson (2011) and Quinton Coples (2012).

“His ability to change direction, it’s special,” said Jeff Bauer, the Jets’ director of college scouting.

Richardson could compete with Kenrick Ellis, the team’s third-round pick in 2011, to be the Jets’ starting nose tackle after the team released veteran Sione Po’uha.

Mizzou’s Sheldon Richardson competing to be top pick in NFL Draft

By Matthew Fairburn

Former Missouri defensive tackle spent last weekend in Indianapolis at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.

Richardson discussed his final season at Missouri, his decision to leave school early, and how he stacks up to the rest of the defensive tackles in this year’s class.

While Richardson is widely considered a first round prospect, he hopes to hear his name called when the Kansas City Chiefs make the first overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.

[audio https://kbiasportsextra.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/sheldon.mp3]

Supervising editing for this story was done by Jared Jeffries

Richardson to enter 2013 NFL Draft

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson from Missouri has decided to forego his final year of collegiate eligibility. It was announced Friday via a press release from the athletic department that he will make himself available for the 2013 NFL Draft, which will be held April 25-27.

“This has been my dream ever since I was a little kid,” Richardson said via the release. “It’s still not easy leaving Mizzou like this, but I know I’m ready. I’ll always be a Tiger.”

“I’ve always said that when guys have opportunities like these, if they’re ready to go, then they should go,” Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said.  “I have no doubt that Sheldon is ready to play in the NFL, and while we’d love to have him for another year, the important thing is that this is the right decision.”

This season Richardson led all Southeastern Conference defensive tackles with 75 tackles. The St. Louis native started in 11 games and tallied four sacks this season. He also forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles and blocked one kick. In 24 career games, Richardson made 112 tackles overall.

“It will be fun watching him play on Sundays,” Pinkel said.

Missouri skidding toward end of first SEC season

By the Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. — With 1:52 remaining in last week’s home finale, Missouri redshirt freshman Andrew Baggett jogged back to the sideline, greeted by high-fives from teammates after kicking a 46-yard field goal.

The Tigers had just taken a 27-24 lead over Syracuse and looked as if they were going to extend their school-record bowl streak to eight. For a program entering the year with 48 wins in its past five seasons, reaching the postseason has been a baseline.

But this year, Missouri’s first in the Southeastern Conference, injuries and off-field issues have hampered the team’s success. The Tigers (5-6, 2-5 SEC) haven’t won consecutive games for the first time since 2001, coach Gary Pinkel’s first season with the team.

So when Syracuse drove 81 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown with 20 seconds left, it was another punch in the gut for the home team.

“It’s amazing, you’re 20 seconds away from winning the game, and when you win it, everything’s so much better,” Pinkel said. “And when you lose it, everything’s so much worse.”

The loss was the team’s sixth game decided by seven points or less.

“I don’t know if you guys understand how hard we fight, how much we want to win,” senior left tackle Elvis Fisher said. “I know that sometimes, a lot of people may say, ‘It doesn’t look like they’re even playing that well.’ We’re fighting our butts off out there. We want to win.”

The Tigers now must win at fellow SEC newcomer Texas A&M (9-2, 5-2) to keep their season alive. Despite having won in College Station the past two years, Missouri hasn’t faced redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, who’s guided the ninth-ranked Aggies to the upper tier of their new conference.

Missouri will benefit from the return of junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who didn’t play against Syracuse while suspended for violating team rules. Richardson’s 70 tackles are second most on the team and rank first among interior defensive linemen in the SEC. Without him, the team registered only two tackles for loss and failed to record a sack against the Orange.

Richardson’s teammates are eager to move on.

“It’s easy for an outsider looking in to criticize the mistakes,” junior right guard Max Copeland said. “But criticism’s real easy, man. And forgiveness isn’t. And that’s what we do. That’s the nature of our brotherhood. We forgive each other, we love each other.”

The team hasn’t said who will be starting at quarterback. Junior James Franklin suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter against Syracuse and is questionable this week. Franklin threw for 279 yards — his best performance of the season — and two touchdowns before leaving the game. After starting all 13 games in 2011, he’s missed three starts this year because of shoulder and knee injuries.

Redshirt freshmen Corbin Berkstresser, who threw for 85 yards and led two scoring drives in the fourth quarter Saturday, will start if Franklin can’t play. If there were a silver lining to the team’s injury woes this season, it would be the experience gained by some of the Tigers’ younger players.

“He’s progressed as a quarterback at a pretty good rate,” offensive coordinator David Yost said of Berkstresser. “And really, it’s not like he’s a backup anymore because he’s played so much.”

Missouri has no plans to give up on its season with one sure game remaining.

“Doesn’t matter what happens,” Copeland said. “You can have big wins, big losses. The fire’s still there to compete. That’s why we do what we do.”

Mizzou heads to No. 8 Florida as a considerable underdog

Missouri-Florida Preview Capsule

By the Associated Press

Missouri (4-4, 1-4 SEC) at No. 8 Florida (7-1, 6-1), 11 a.m. Central (ESPN2)
Line: Florida by 17.
Series Record: Missouri leads 1-0.

What’s at stake

For Florida, maybe the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division. For Missouri, a chance to build on its first conference victory. Florida needs to win and have Georgia lose one of its remaining games against Ole Miss or Auburn to clinch the East.

Key matchup

Florida’s offensive line vs. Missouri’s defensive front. The Gators got whipped in the trenches in a 17-9 loss to Georgia last week, giving up five sacks and managing a season-low 81 yards rushing. The line has to play better, and the Tigers are no easy matchup. Missouri has 19 sacks, most of them by a D-line that features Sheldon Richardson, Kony Ealy, Michael Sam and Brad Madison.

Players to watch

Missouri: QB James Franklin, who has missed time this season because of shoulder and knee injuries, came off the bench last week to help the Tigers beat Kentucky. Coach Gary Pinkel says Franklin will start against the Gators, but his mobility could be tested against Florida’s defensive speed.

Florida: RB Mike Gillislee is averaging just 60 yards on the ground the last three weeks. The Gators need to get him going to spark a lackluster offense.

Facts & Figures

The only meeting between the teams came in the 1966 Sugar Bowl. The Tigers led 20-0 before the Gators charged back in the fourth quarter. Steve Spurrier threw two TD passes and ran for a score in an 11-minute span. Florida probably would have won had coach Ray Graves called for extra points after those TDs. Instead, Florida failed to make all three 2-point conversions, and Missouri won 20-18. … Missouri is making its third road trip of the season and second to the Sunshine State. The Tigers beat UCF 21-16 in late September. Mizzou, which lost at South Carolina, finishes the SEC slate on the road against Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M. … Florida is 4-0 at home this season and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in three SEC games at The Swamp.

Missouri quarterback James Franklin helps Missouri earn first SEC win

james franklin passes

James Franklin (1) eludes Kentucky defender Avery Williamson (40). Franklin entered the game in the second half, the first time he had played since being injured three weeks ago.

Story by Joe Vozzelli
Photos by Karen Mitchell

James Franklin waited patiently on the sideline for almost three quarters, knowing he could help Missouri win its first Southeastern Conference game.

For the first 40 minutes of Missouri’s 33-10 victory over Kentucky Saturday at Faurot Field, the junior quarterback watched as his replacement, Corbin Berkstresser, struggled.

Kendial Lawrence

Kendial Lawrence (4) runs through a hole created by the offensive line. Lawrence ran for 108 yards against Kentucky.

Senior tailback Kendial Lawrence said the switch at quarterback provided a spark.

“Just seeing him want to be out there and then the coaches telling him it’s OK for him to go out and play, it was a huge lift for our team,” he said.

With Franklin back in the driver’s seat, the Tigers finally notched their first SEC win.

Berkstresser was 10-for-18 for 71 yards and two interceptions in the Tigers’ homecoming game against the Wildcats. On Missouri’s opening drive of the second half, Berkstresser threw a pass, which floated over wide receiver Bud Sasser’s head and into the waiting arms of Kentucky cornerback J.D. Harmon.

Berkstresser acknowledged that it was a “bad throw.”

Making his third start at quarterback this season against Kentucky, Berkstresser was so ineffective that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel elected to switch to Franklin with 4:58 left in the third quarter and Missouri ahead 17-10.

“I’m definitely disappointed in not playing up to my ability and having to come out like that,” Berkstresser said.

Franklin sat out of Missouri’s last contest against Alabama on Oct. 13 with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. The junior quarterback warmed up with the first team offense before the game, throwing 25-yard pass patterns. But he wasn’t at full speed on a run to the left in 11-on-11 pregame drills.

Pinkel had a simple explanation for why Missouri changed quarterbacks.

“We needed a play,” he said.

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Missouri frustrated, beaten by Vanderbilt for second SEC home loss

Story by Joe Vozzelli

Photos by Peter Marek

MIssouri defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson drags Jordan Rodgers to the ground for his only sack of the night on Oct. 6, 2012 at Faurot Field. The sack was a lone bright spot in the 19-15 Missouri loss. Photo by Peter Marek.

For the second straight time in a home Southeastern Conference game, Missouri’s players listened as the opposing teams’ fans serenaded them.

While Vanderbilt ran out the clock late in the fourth quarter to secure a 19-15 victory over Missouri, Commodores fans chanted “S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C” to remind Missouri that the team has yet to record a conference win in its inaugural SEC season.

The barb was reminiscent of Georgia’s “old-man football” chant after beating the Tigers on September 8, turning lineman Sheldon Richardson’s comments into a derisive farewell.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said it’s hard to formulate a message for his players after a tough loss.

“It’s just difficult. I don’t think there’s any magic (answer) to it there,” he said. “Our guys are very competitive and they want to win and be successful. I’ve been here before and we don’t like it.”

Missouri defensive back Kip Edwards didn’t shy away from being honest about scene in the Tigers’ locker room after the game.

“It’s quiet, you don’t hear anybody talking. It hurts,” he said.

Edwards had an interesting reaction, though, when he was asked if this loss to the Commodores has led to frustration within the locker room.

“Frustration? No, I don’t think there’s any frustration when we’ve got a game next week,” he said.

Pinkel saw a combination of emotions from his players after they walked back to the locker room following the game.

“They’re frustrated, they’re angry and they should be,” he said.

Part of the dismay had to stem from Missouri’s offensive woes after quarterback James Franklin suffered a knee injury. Franklin appeared to suffer the injury on a 23-yard run in the first quarter, receiving a helmet-to-knee hit from Commodores safety Eric Samuels. Franklin stayed in the game for the remainder of Missouri’s offensive series, which resulted in a 28-yard Andrew Baggett field goal to give Missouri a 6-0 lead.

The injury forced Franklin into the Missouri locker room. He emerged later, wearing sweatpants and a black baseball hat. Franklin has a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, Pinkel said, and will miss “a few weeks.” The coach doesn’t expect Missouri’s starting quarterback to play against Alabama next Saturday.

Franklin also missed Missouri’s game against Arizona State on September 15 because of an inflamed bursa sac in his right throwing shoulder.

Pinkel said this season has been tough on Franklin.

“James was really playing good. So I feel bad for him. Seems like, for some reason, the injury bug has hit him,” Pinkel said.

Franklin wasn’t the only Missouri player to leave the game with an injury. Tailback/punt returner Marcus Murphy left with a dislocated ring finger and starting center Mitch Morse came out with a knee injury. Pinkel doesn’t expect Morse to play against Alabama either. The Tigers also missed linebacker Will Ebner, the team’s leading tackler, who sat out the contest with an injured hamstring.

Also missing from the game was freshman Dorial Green-Beckham, who was suspended from the game after being arrested earlier in the week on a drug charge.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser, who took over for Franklin, struggled for much of the game, going 9-for-30 with 189 yards and a touchdown.

Most of Berkstresser’s passing yards happened on an 85-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Bud Sasser. The touchdown reception was Missouri’s longest pass completion since a 98-yard hookup between quarterback Pete Woods and tailback Joe Stewart against Nebraska in October 1976.

Sasser wasn’t sure if the pass was intended for him, or wide receiver Gahn McGaffie, who jumped for the ball, as well.

The long touchdown closed Missouri’s deficit to 16-15 with an extra point left but the Tigers weren’t able to tie the game, bobbling the point after snap.

Sasser said mistakes like those can be “game changers.”

Defensive end Kony Ealy said Missouri’s struggles on offense didn’t cause the Missouri defense to become frustrated, even though the defense held the Commodores to 295 total offense yards.

“We’ve got to execute our plays. You can’t get frustrated with anybody else. You’ve got to do your job,” he said.

Missouri (3-3) will need to execute on a high level next week when it faces No. 1 Alabama (5-0). The Tigers will play host to the Crimson Tide at 2:30 p.m. at Faurot Field on CBS.

Edwards was blunt about how the team should approach the week leading up to the Alabama game.

“It’s time for our leaders to lead and our captains to lead as well,” he said.

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Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson remains confident on and off the field

Story and photo by Joe Vozzelli

Defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson (34) and Kony Ealy (47) pursue Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly (10) on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Faurot Field. Richardson and Ealy combined for 13 tackles in Missouri’s 24-20 victory. Photo by Joe Vozzelli.

During Monday’s media day, Sheldon Richardson had a chance to talk about his play on the field for the first time since his “old-man football” comments.

The 6-foot-4-inch 295-pound defensive tackle made those comments about Georgia’s style of play after Missouri won its season opener, saying he turned off the Georgia-Buffalo contest because it was “old-man football.”

Missouri played Georgia the following week and the Bulldogs took care of the Tigers with a 41-20 win.

However, Richardson has apologized for those comments. After the loss to Georgia, he walked up to Georgia coach Mark Richt and delivered an apology.

Even with the apology, Richardson was held out of media days for almost a month. But during that time, the junior defensive tackle hasn’t needed to say much.

Richardson has been one of Missouri’s most consistent defensive players all season. Richardson has 33 tackles, the highest total among defensive lineman in the Southeastern Conference.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has commented several times about Richardson’s maturity and development as a player.

“He’s in better shape, he’s quicker, he’s stronger, he’s faster, he understands the defense better,” Pinkel said.

Pinkel had an explanation for why Richardson has developed into a more consistent player this season. Richardson participated in summer workouts, something the defensive tackle wasn’t able to do last season, missing those workouts because the NCAA hadn’t cleared him academically.

As a result, Richardson wasn’t as sharp last season, amassing only 37 tackles in 2011, four more than he has for the Tigers through five games this season.

Richardson also admits he was a little out of shape last season. He weighed 315 pounds for much of last year before trimming almost 20 pounds during the offseason.

Pinkel has noticed a difference.

“His movement for a guy that weighs 295 pounds and how he runs is really amazing,” Pinkel said.

Opposing teams have noticed, as well. Richardson faced double teams and triple teams from the interior of Central Florida’s offensive line in last week’s 21-16 Missouri victory.

Richardson has been in the middle of things at key moments in the game this season, even if those places on the field are away from the usual office for a defensive lineman.

Defensive lineman are usually asked to make plays at or behind the line of scrimmage, mostly in the form of sacks and tackles. Richardson has done that: he has two sacks and four tackles for loss in Missouri’s last three games.

But, Richardson has also made plays down the field.

Late in the fourth quarter against Central Florida, Richardson was seven yards from his usual office and pounced on a fumble around midfield after defensive back E.J. Gaines stripped Knights wide receiver Jeff Godfrey of the ball. Richardson’s fumble recovery allowed Missouri to run out the clock and eek out a close win against Central Florida.

Richardson said he’s seen Missouri’s opponents focus more on blocking him lately.

“I’m starting to get a lot more heat early in the games, he said. “They’re starting to respect me more.”

Richardson’s play this season has spurred questions about the defensive tackle’s draft stock.

When he was asked if he’s thinking about the NFL Draft next April, Richardson had an interesting response.

“There’s draft talk about me?,” Richardson joked before saying, “I don’t get on the Internet really. I just stay to myself and stay focused on game film. I could be good this week and bad next week then, the draft stock is no more.”

Richardson, though, hasn’t wavered in his self-confidence. He thinks of himself as one of best defensive tackles in the SEC.

Missouri defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski had high praise for the junior. Kuligowski, who’s in his 12th season at Missouri, has coached the likes of Aldon Smith and Ziggy Hood, who were both drafted in first round of the NFL draft.

Richardson’s talents “as high as we’ve had on the defensive line,” Kuligowski said.

Missouri’s defensive line, Richardson included, will be tested again Saturday at Faurot Field as Missouri attempts to win its first SEC conference game. Vanderbilt tailback Zac Stacy is averaging 7.4 yards per carry, the third highest total in the conference.

Missouri DL Richardson off to roaring start

By the Associated Press

As a defensive tackle, Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson enjoys the limelight whenever he can get it.

Thanks to his actions on and off the field this season, he’s got it.

With 33 tackles through five games, including nine in Saturday’s 21-16 win at Central Florida, Richardson leads all defensive linemen in the Southeastern Conference. He is Missouri’s second-leading tackler, and is tied for second with five tackles for loss.

“I play with a desire to win,” he said. “I feel like nobody else can match my intensity. Every play is my play to make.”

Last month, Richardson made headlines when he described No. 5 Georgia’s style of play as “old man football.” He apologized to Bulldogs coach Mark Richt after the Bulldogs beat Missouri and was suspended from talking to the media for four weeks.

“I got my notoriety up a little bit,” said Richardson, who thinks his words were overblown and doesn’t regret using them.

In his three games since playing Georgia, the 6-4, 295-pound junior has 25 tackles, two sacks, four tackles for loss, one forced fumble and recovered another. His efforts have helped Missouri hold opposing offenses to 333 yards per game, 30th in the country and 47 yards fewer than last season.

Coach Gary Pinkel attributes Richardson’s success to experience he’s gained by attending summer workouts – things he wasn’t able to do while waiting to be cleared academically in 2011, his first year with the team.

“He’s in better shape, he’s stronger, he’s quicker, he understands the defense better,” Pinkel said. “His movement for a guy that weighs 295 pounds and how he runs is really amazing.”

Next up for the Tigers is Vanderbilt and Zac Stacy, whose 7.4 yards per carry is third among tailbacks in the SEC with at least 40 carries. Defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said the game is slowing down for Richardson, who has started all five games this season after only starting twice last year.

“He’s a great player, and he’s energetic,” cornerback E.J. Gaines said. “And he just brings something special to the defense that just gets us all going, kind of gives us our mojo. It’s great having him on our side of the ball.”

Behind his wall of self-confidence, Richardson stays grounded by thinking about his family. After growing up in St. Louis, the highly coveted athlete signed a letter of intent in February 2009 to play with Missouri at the urging of his parents, Michael and Zelda, to stay close to home. When he failed to qualify academically, however, he attended the College of the Sequoias in California for two years, learning less about football and more about living on his own and paying bills.

He decided against playing for Southern California in favor of returning to Missouri, again at the advice of his parents.

“Seeing my folks smile at the games, win, lose or draw,” Richardson said. “I know they have my back, full support. That’s what I live for, for real. And I refuse to go out there and let them down, at any time.”

Considered an NFL prospect, Richardson said he will leave Missouri if he can crack the first round, citing financial reasons.

“His physical talents are as high as we’ve had on our defensive line,” said Kuligowski, who’s in his 12th year at Missouri. “That was never really a doubt. It was just a matter of him doing it. And so now you’re starting to see him do it.”