Paul Richardson did not expect that he would perform so well after returning from injury, and neither did his doctors.
After pushing through an extensive rehabilitation process following an ACL tear in April 2012, Richardson began practicing with teammate Connor Wood that winter — earlier than his doctors recommended. He had already been sneaking out after practice to run around without the inhibition of his brace and couldn’t stay off the field any longer, he said.
“I was hungry,” he explained. “I wanted to play so bad after I watched my team suffer every week.”
Richardson and Wood, who became the Buffs’ starting quarterback this year, began throwing after practice to build the rhythm that they rely on this season.
“Outside of practice hours, Connor and I would get together and throw on Folsom,” the junior wide receiver told CU Independent. “It was fun, too, so it’s no surprise that we have good chemistry now.”
That chemistry has proven to be crucial in the Buffs’ 2-0 record this season.
After sitting out the entire 2012 football season due to the knee injury, Richardson returned to Colorado football with a bang during the first two games of 2013.
Against Colorado State, he boasted 208 receiving yards off of ten passes. It was the first 200-yard receiving game in the country this season. He was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week.
Six days later, Richardson bested himself by receiving eleven passes for 209 yards, and was again the only receiver in the country to achieve the feat. He became the first Pac-12 player in history to achieve two consecutive 200-yard games, thus earning him another Player of the Week award.
“I don’t think anyone could have envisioned this,” Richardson said at a Sept. 10 news conference. “I’m very grateful and very blessed to have that start. I wanted us to start off fast and I wanted us to start off doing really well, but I never expected it to be this well.”
Wood believes that Richardson has returned to the field new and improved after his year on the sidelines.
“Those two back-to-back games with 200 yards, that’s very impressive,” Wood said at the Sept. 10 news conference. “He’s come back stronger.”
Richardson’s success started long before he became a Buffalo and can be traced all the way back to his father, Paul Richardson Sr., who played at the collegiate level with UCLA. According to Richardson and the CU Athletic Department, his father played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Jets, the Green Bay Packers, and the Oakland Raiders.
As the son of a professional football player, Paul Richardson Jr. started playing the game at an early age.
“I started playing football when I was two in a six-year-old league,” Richardson told CU Independent. “I played flag, and then I started playing tackle when I was eight.”
When high school rolled around, Richardson Sr. coached Richardson Jr. to adjust to several positions. For the first several years of his high school career, Richardson said he switched back and forth between cornerback and receiver.
“I played corner most of my life, so my dad was really aggressive with me, and he coached me how to weigh different attitudes of most receivers,” Richardson said at the news conference. “When I crossed over to playing receiver, I already had that work ethic embedded in me.”
His success paid off in high school, as nearly every school in the Pac-12 offered him scholarships to play cornerback and receiver.
“I got scholarships at corner and scholarships at receiver, but I ended up going to receiver,” he said. “It’s easier to score touchdowns on offense than it is to score touchdowns on defense.”
In the end, he decided that Colorado would be the best fit for him because the team had just lost a receiver.
He left a big impression during his freshman year by earning a number of awards, including the team’s Lee Willard Award for most outstanding freshman. He was also named the University of Colorado’s Co-Male Freshman Athlete of the Year among all sports, along with basketball’s Andre Roberson.
His success continued well into his sophomore year, when he broke the school record in receiving yards after catching for 284 during the game against California.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer at Alissa.firstname.lastname@example.org.