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Milan Richard’s ‘All In’ Clemson Career

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Richard, with two national championships, four conference titles, a bachelor's degree and, soon, a master's degree, has added to the family legacy while creating a story all his own.

As the son of two former All-American Georgia track stars and the nephew of College Football Hall of Famer Herschel Walker, Milan Richard began his Clemson career chasing dreams and destiny alike. A dynasty proved to be end result. Richard, with two national championships, four conference titles, a bachelor's degree and, soon, a master's degree, has added to the family legacy while creating a story all his own. Few, anywhere, have done what Richard has accomplished.

With the Tigers overwhelming Alabama for a second national championship in three years, Clemson's veterans became the all-time winningest senior class in college football history. The the first modern team ever to go 15-0, the Tigers, additionally, became the first ACC side to win four consecutive outright conference titles, earned four straight playoff bids and played every week of their careers ranked in the AP national top 15. Richard was part of a Clemson leadership group that leaves a standard the game has never before seen. 

Stunningly, Richard's career winning percentage is higher than his Heisman Trophy-winning uncle's, 93.2% to 91.6%.

Richard's final game at Clemson was both familiar and fitting. Facing Alabama in the playoff for the fourth year in a row, he, again, walked off the field as the nation's best. This time, the Tigers left no doubt. A highly-touted prospect out of Calvary Day in Savannah, Georgia, Richard signed with a very good Clemson program; he looks back on it as one of the greatest of a generation.

"It's such a surreal feeling, we couldn't have written the script any better. To come here and win two national championships in my career, it's more than a dream come true," he explained. "That was definitely a goal for my class, we definitely wanted to win one. To win two is above and beyond. Such a great experience, so blessed."

Statistically, Richard caught 25 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns over his last three years at Clemson. His full impact, however, is hard to measure. Richard, winning 55 games over four seasons, helped change and sustain a new status quo for the Tigers. Throughout his career, Richard, as a receiver, caught passes from Deshaun Watson, Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence. As a blocker, Richard helped pave the way for the likes of Wayne Gallman and Travis Etienne. This fall, Clemson's offense compiled the second most total yards in the country.   

There were plenty of big moments for Richard, the bright lights of the big stage included. He fielded and returned a kickoff in the national championship game as a redshirt freshman. Richard, as a junior, caught a 20-yard touchdown strike, against home-state Georga Tech. In a critical mid-November ACC Atlantic Division test at nationally-ranked Boston College this past season, Richard scored a go-ahead touchdown late in the first quarter, catching the night's lone touchdown pass in one of the Tigers' closer games. 

At Clemson's 2018 post-season awards banquet, Richard's significance to the team was on full display. He was the singular recipient of the P.A.T. Man of the Year Award for "personifying manhood through leadership, ethics, demeanor, and community involvement", earned the PAW Award for the "most blue-collar and unselfish players" and received the All-In Accountability Leaderhip Award. Citing production and performance for the starting tight end would simply be the beginning of the scope of his role.   

What Richard accomplished at Clemson goes well beyond the box score. Earning his under-graduate degree in merely three-and-a-half years, Richard did more than just balance the demanding student-athlete workload, he excelled at it. Quite soon, Richard will have a post-graduate degree as well. He, true to wide-ranging goals he and his family set going in, made the most of opportunities on and off the field. 

"I graduated last December, I'll graduate with my graduate degree in May. Those are two things that I have been really proud of, something that I told my mom I was going to do. She was serious about me coming and graduating and now she is ecstatic that I am about to get two degrees," Richard shared as to what he most proud of . "So I think those would have to be my one and two and then obviously the national championships. Like I said, that's a dream come true."

His name on paper and in print, Richard also has a deep appreciation for those he lined up alongside. The "Clemson Family" mantra has a very real meaning for Richard. His best memories will long be shared. What Richard did is made even more special by who he did it with.   

"The relationships that you build with your teammates will forever outlast all of the games or stats or anything like that. It really is just a blessing to be able to come here and meet so many guys from different aspects of life," Richard added. "You know we'll be friends forever."  

Clearly the nation's new powerhouse program, college football is still trying to process Clemson's remarkable success. The Tigers have won two of the last three national titles and have played in three of the last four. Clemson, fresh off beating Alabama and Notre Dame by a combined score of 74-19, joins 1901 Michigan as the only champions to win each of their last ten games by at least 20 points. In what has proven to be a run for the record books for the Tigers, Richard has been in an all-out sprint.

Twice now, Richard has helped put the pieces in place for Clemson to win it all; even still, he can't quite put into words what it means.

"You grow up as a little kid playing PlayStation and winning national championships on the game. To be able to experience it in real life...I don't really have the words to describe it."

Richard came to Clemson with a great story, impressive credentials and a vision. He leaves with a whole lot more.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports