James Richardson Player Profile
Size: 5-9, 182
Year: Junior (Redshirted in 2012 after tearing ACL before season)
High School: Central
Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
Recruitment: Coming out of high school, "J.R." was rated as a three-star prospect and one of the top players in Louisiana. He was named first team All-State and a finalist for the Warrick Dunn Award, given annually to the top prep athlete in Louisiana.
Richardson was chosen all-district at three spots: defensive back, kick returner and athlete. He tallied 62 tackles, including eight tackles for loss, and five interceptions during his senior season. He also ran for 262 yards and four scores on 44 carries.
2013 Review: After missing all of 2012 with a torn ACL, Richardson had a quiet sophomore season on defense and special teams. He played in 10 games; only starting against Montana State, and never really got the opportunity to make a consistent impact. He finished the year with seven tackles, including five solo, and added just two pass breakups. On special teams, he was asked to return kicks only two times all season for a total of 54 yards.
Chris Parks and Kenneth Acker were the starting cornerbacks all year and Ajee Montes was the only other defensive back to play in every game. Richardson did get to start one game over Parks, but he received inconsistent snaps the rest of the season. On special teams, the SMU coaching staff relied on freshman JaBryce Taylor to return kicks. Taylor did a good job for the most part, but was kicked off the team this spring.
Outlook in 2014: With Acker, Parks, and safety Jay Scott all gone, the Mustangs secondary is a huge question mark going into next season. Defensive coordinator Tom Mason will need Richardson to step up and play a much bigger role to make up for those crushing losses. Richardson will battle with sophomores Horace and Darrion Richardson to start opposite of Ajee Montes. For him to secure the job, Richardson will have to stay healthy and show the coaches he is back to his old self. He may get another look as the kick returner because of his versatility, but I think the coaching staff will decide to use him exclusively on defense to protect him from injury.
If he is 100 percent, Richardson has the ability to be a very good corner and difference maker in the AAC. He looks natural in coverage and has sound technical ability. He also plays much bigger than his size. I think he could be SMU’s best defensive back in 2014 and the Mustangs are going to need all the help they can get back there.