Back Michael Richard, Southeast Georgia’s Hidden Gem

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Michael Richard, Southeast Georgia’s Hidden Gem

By Barry Every
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At 6-foot-4, 270-pounds this statuesque behemoth surely looks the part of a major FBS prospect.

You see young prospects claiming they’re underrated as recruits constantly on social media. Sometimes that’s true, a prospect could be at a school that is not known for producing college level football players or they may be geographically isolated.  In most cases size, athleticism, production on film or grades are actually the reasons for lack of recruiting attention.

This brings us too highly under recruited offensive lineman Michael Richard of Springfield (Ga.) Effingham County. At 6-foot-4, 270-pounds this statuesque behemoth surely looks the part of a major FBS prospect. And he is not bemoaning his deficient recruiting on social media.

Though Springfield, population 2,855, is small in size it’s part of the greater Savannah metropolitan area. So it’s not exactly isolated from the rest of the world.

Coach Buddy Holder took over the helm of Rebel Football in January of 2013, in that time he has gone (26-21), never suffering a losing season playing in Georgia’s second largest classification. It’s not like Effingham County runs away from stiff non-region opponents. This season they have already played Douglas (Ga.) Coffee and are slated to do battle with Thomson (Ga.) and Waynesboro (Ga.) Burke County.

“I don’t understand why college coaches haven’t made a move on Richard,” Holder said. “A lot of coaches swing into the school and inquire who has offered, which leaves me scratching my head. Don’t they do their own homework?”

Richard has been a varsity starter at offensive tackle since the third game of his sophomore season. Last season the Rebels finished (7-4/3-1) playing in GHSA Region 2-AAAAAA. A Region that includes Brunswick (Ga.). Brunswick (Ga.) Glynn Academy and Richmond Hill (Ga.), all of which have produced multiple FBS prospects over the last two seasons.

This past Friday Richard faced one of the biggest challenges on the gridiron; he squared off versus Derick Newton the reigning sack leader in the State of Georgia. Yes, did Newton have a good game absolutely, but Richard won his share of the battles using a powerful punch and precise hand placement.

At this time Richard has one solid scholarship offer from Army. Other schools keeping close tabs are Appalachian State and Navy. This seems amazing considering he has the body type to project at four of the five offensive line positions.

“I’m not disappointed or upset, I simply have to demonstrate on the field what I am capable off,” Richard said. “I don’t care what position I am recruited at, they can switch me to linebacker. It’s all about the joy of playing the game.”

Coach Holder is not the only staff member wondering why Richard doesn’t have more offers. The man that works with Richard every day is offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Clint Hodges.

“He is extremely athletic, Richard plays on the basketball team and can actually dunk the ball,” Hodges said. “He can run a legit 5.0 40-yard dash and is a very good student, he’s already completed three years of French. I don’t really know why he doesn’t have more offers. I think he can play at the top level, we’ve promoted him to every school that has stopped by.”

Yes, Richard is well on his way to being completely qualified boasting a 3.3 GPA and a 1,000 on the first take of the SAT. But he is not satisfied having set a goal of attaining a 1,200 on the next take of the SAT.

This past summer Richard took part in three camps, Mercer, Wake Forest and the Blue-Grey Combine. It was satellite camp in Macon, Georgia that led to the offer from West Point. His performance at the Blue-Grey Combine led to an invite to their All-American Bowl in Jacksonville.

“Yeah, I really like Coach Mitch Ware my recruiter at Army,” Richard said. “He did a great job of breaking everything down, laying it out in a way that was easy to understand. He was just very upfront and honest, and I appreciate that.”

Richard is also a monster in the weight room with a 350-pound bench max to go along with a 485-pound squat and a 310-pound clean. Once football season is over this fall, he will bypass basketball to focus on getting ready for college football.

Though he is very intrigued with the Army offer, considering his mother spent time in the National Guard, he would like to hear what other colleges have to offer.

“Yeah distance is not a factor, I have family all over the country,” Richard said. “I have family in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York and Texas. One of the most beautiful places I have ever visited was San Diego, where my grandfather lives.”

So this begs to offer, why does Richard lack the offers commensurate with his ability and potential of the football field? Maybe college coaches are more reactive than proactive in pursuing football prospects. You see it all the time, a potential prospect gets a couple of offers than everyone jumps on board without having fully evaluated the player.

Army could be getting a real Southeast Georgia gem if no one else makes the effort to truly evaluate this athletic and versatile offensive line prospect. Either way Richard is focused on leading his team back to the playoffs and is willing to let his play on the field dictate his eventual destination.