In a matter of weeks, Pensacola (Fla.) Escambia running back Trent Richardson has gone from a running back with a handful of scholarship offers to one of the most highly coveted prospects in the country. The powerful speedy back holds offers from virtually every major program in the southeast and he continues to gain attention on a daily basis.
This past weekend Richardson traveled to Starkville, Miss. to visit Mississippi State for its Spring Game. As one of the first programs to get in on Richardson, the Bulldogs sit in high esteem for the 5-foot-11, 210-pounder. The visit this weekend did nothing to hurt that standing.
"I went down to Mississippi State this weekend and they were real cool and everything," Richardson said. "They had some big linemen and that big running back Dixon, he's like 230 pounds. I'll be looking at them. Their offensive line, them boys are hitting."
Offensive line has become a high priority for Richardson and one of his primary factors throughout the decision making process is the strength of each program's potential blockers.
"All I need is someone to block for me," he said. "I haven't really had that in high school so I'm looking for that in college."
Richardson was impressed by much more than just the size of the players however. The layout of the football facilities and the campus left him very encouraged.
"That's a good academic program they've got and they're all right there by the football field so you won't have to rush getting to and from class," he said. "Their dorm rooms, how they've got it now, the football team has got their own cafeteria. You don't have to rush or go any place. You can stay right there on campus.
"If you're a senior you can move off campus if you have a 2.5 GPA but you don't really need to move off campus, you got cable and everything in there. They've got games in there and six or seven flat screens, a pool table, playstations, xbox all that."
The track was another aspect of the campus that impressed Richardson who is a star in the 100 meters. He has considered running indoor track to stay in shape for football. However the other aspect of the trip that left him with a good feeling was Coach Sylvester Croom.
"The coaches were real nice and whatever," he said. "While the Spring Game was going on Coach Croom actually came in the crowd and he sat with me. Everyone was coming and getting autographs and everything. It made me feel pretty good."
With as many options as Richardson has and continues to get, he is not close to narrowing his list down. However he did talk about some of the schools that stand out to him at this point in the process along with Mississippi State.
"I like Alabama," he said. "I like LSU too. I just got an offer from Florida so I'm going to go down there and look at them. On the 12th (of April) I'll go down to Gainesville. I've gotta go down there to the Nike Camp on the 13th. They can't talk to me on the 13th but they can on the 12th."
For the Crimson Tide, the main selling point for the powerful and speedy back is the presence of Coach Saban and his character.
"Nick Saban has real good character and stuff," he explained. "He's an honest man. He'll look out for you and stuff. One old boy got arrested and he wasn't going to kick him off the team because he said it would break the promise he made to his mother that he would take care of him."
Another bonus for Alabama is that one of Richardson's childhood friends is on the team.
"One of my homeboys is down there at Alabama," he said. "[Chris Lett] played at [Pensacola High School]. We came up together playing little league football so he wants me there."
Meanwhile, LSU has a similar selling point as Alabama: it's head coach.
"Les Miles, he loved to have me down there playing. I relate to him. I like Coach Porter a lot too, the running backs coach. I relate to him a lot. They're very good people and stuff. That's also close to my brother (Terrelle Richardson) who plays at Louisiana Lafayette. It's probably like 30 or 45 minutes from there. I'm boys with a lot of his friends down there so that'd be good to be close."
As is the case with many recruits though, LSU's national title is what impresses Richardson the most.
"The dude that's recruiting me (Josh Henson), he's the tight end coach. He told me that he wants me on their football team now. That right there shows me a lot because they just won a national title. That comes from someone I didn't even think that I'd be recruited by."
Richardson also listed Auburn and Ole Miss as some schools that have intrigued him of late and Florida State as another program high on his list.
With his offer list growing by the week, if not the day, Richardson's recruitment holds no certainties and at this point there is no clear favorite. However the tailback hopes to narrow things down by August or during his season at the least.
Richardson's recruitment will not be anything like the fast, instinctual style of play that characterizes his football game. Instead it will be a meticulous and calculated process to ensure that he will end up at the school best for him.