Senior defensive lineman Nick Richardson has the opportunity to be put in the ACU record books. Already one of the greatest defensive players the university has seen, Richardson comes into the 2014 season just 11 sacks away from claiming the all-time ACU record.
“I was told about the record, but I’m more focused on doing what I need to do to help this team win,” Richardson said. “I’m always thinking about winning. It’s our first season taking on Southland teams, so I just want to come out and win as many games as we can in my last season.”
Breaking the record set by Reuben Mason in 1978 would be a fitting end to the career Richardson has had thus far. Richardson enters his final season as one of the premiere anchors of a defense that is returning many varsity players.
“The defense has looked really good so far,” Richardson said. “We have eight starters coming back so there’s not much adjusting to do, but we are trying to fill holes that are there. But everything is meshing really well.”
The Wildcats, a team filled with many new starting players on the offensive end, will need a high level of productivity from the defense to secure a successful season. With new players on defense as well, Richardson is confident everyone will do their parts.
“With all the returners, we know the defense and there hasn’t been that much of a learning curve,” Richardson said. “We’re just really building on what we had last year so it’s going to be an easy transition into this year. A.J. Tolbert, Josh Finley and Rishaad (Wimbley) are all new guys that are going to be crucial for us starting off.”
With an experienced group of defenders behind him, it takes the pressure off Richardson knowing that even if he can’t get to the ball, someone around him will, he said.
“What gets me excited are the guys that are going to line up beside him and line up behind him,” said head coach Ken Collums. “And when he comes off the field, we have to have someone there ready to replace that effort and intensity.”
Like most great athletes, Richardson’s greatness comes from his relentless dedication and determination for excellence.
“In this league where we are going, you need a guy like Nick Richardson,” Collums said. “Watching him in practice and watching him prepare is fun, because he puts forth such an effort that rubs off on the other guys around him.”
Richardson, who was named on the 2014 College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Watch List, is ready to begin his quest for the record books with a trip to Georgia.
“It’s really exciting, I think we’ve only gotten to fly to a game once or twice since I’ve been here, so it’s definitely an awesome opportunity to get to do it multiple times this season,” Richardson said. “Playing in the Dome, you can’t really beat it to start off the season.”