When Cleveland Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson arrived at Escambia (Pensacola, Fla.) as a 5-foot-8, 190-pound freshman, football coach Derrick Boyd said he looked “like a professional running back.”
While Richardson was physically advanced, his maturity hadn’t quite yet blossomed. Boyd says Richardson often ignored instruction and would perform however he wanted.
“Trent was kind of rebellious,” Boyd said.
Boyd remembers instructing Richardson to perform 20 200-meter repeats, running the turns extremely hard at 80 percent, then sprinting the straightaway at 60 percent.
Richardson, however, would run the turns at 50 percent, then sprint 100 percent down the straightaway.
“I’d say, ‘Do it again,’” Boyd said. “He’d do two to three perfect, but 15 or so were done his way.”
Back and forth they went for two years. Boyd even had former Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Warren call Richardson to preach listening and hard work.
Boyd says something finally clicked for Richardson after his sophomore year when he became a father at age 16. Born with Richardson’s daughter was a new can’t-fail mentality.
“He came to work like it was a job,” Boyd said.
The new dedication paid off. An American Family Insurance ALL-USA selection in 2008, Richardson was rated the nation’s No. 6 recruit in the Class of 2009 by Rivals. As a senior, he rushed for 2,090 yards on 225 carries and scored 26 touchdowns.
“Nobody I’ve ever coached looks and works like Trent,” Boyd says. “I told him going into his senior year, ‘You run the football in a way that makes people want to mention two names: Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker.’”
To which, Boyd recalls Richardson saying, “‘I’m not those guys. I’d like to be as good as those guys, if not better.’”
That dedication extended beyond the football field.
Jackie Morgan taught Richardson’s American sign language class during his junior and senior years and says the future football star showed “a lot of responsibility” in his commitment to assignments and adherence to deadlines.
“He didn’t want to get by on the bare minimum,” Morgan says. “In the past, I know someone in middle school told him he couldn’t [succeed academically]. He was out to prove that he could.”
Morgan said Richardson would even seek help outside of class. If there was a way Richardson could achieve success, he attempted to find it.
That kind of edge has helped Richardson adjust to life in the pros. The No. 3 pick of the 2012 draft, Richardson is on pace to rush for more than 1,000 yards this season and has run for at least 100 yards three times through 13 games.
For more on Richardson's journey, visit www.nfl.com/etp.