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Richardson ready for NFL

NATCHEZ — As names continue to be called in the 2013 NFL draft, one local is hoping today’s the day his dream comes true.

Natchez High School alumnus and Jackson State wide receiver Rico Richardson will pay close attention to the final rounds of the draft today, as he’s projected to possibly go in the later rounds. Richardson said he’s keeping himself from getting too drawn in to all the hype surrounding the draft.

“I really try not to think about it so much,” Richardson said. “A lot of people will get drafted before me, and I know it’ll be hard because I’m coming out of the SWAC, but I know I’ll get a shot. I just want to go out and show I can compete with anyone.”

Even if a team doesn’t select him in the draft, Richardson is almost certain to sign a free agent deal, which will come with a chance to make a team’s roster. And that doesn’t bother him, since at least one pro receiver began his journey that way.

“I’d like to get drafted, but just getting out there and getting a shot, that’s all I want,” he said. “(New York Giants wide receiver) Victor Cruz didn’t get drafted, and he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL.”

Both Cruz and Richardson stand at an even 6 feet, though Cruz weighs 204 to Richardson’s 176 pounds. Scouts told Richardson that they’d like him to be at 180 by the time camp would start.

“In a week or two, I expect to be there,” Richardson said.

Richardson had a strong showing at Jackson State’s pro day in late March, running a 4.38 40-yard dash and bench-pressing 225 pounds 12 times.

“The scouts knew I was fast, but they didn’t know I was that fast,” Richardson said. “I (rose) my stock a lot in the draft.”

Since then, Richardson said he’s been spending time in Miami and Jackson staying in shape, keeping his weight up, working on his route running and trying to recognize defenses better.

“I think my speed and route-running are my strengths,” he said. “I may not be the strongest guy, but speed makes up for a lot of things. I feel like if you’re fast, no one can hold you, because it seems like the stronger guys are more stiff.”

Richardson has kept in touch with his former coaches at NHS, and they’ve all given him advice on how to approach a chance at the NFL.

“They tell me to stay humble,” he said. “The say I just have to go out and give my best, and everything will work out for the best, because God is with you.”

Richardson won’t be the first Natchez native to get a shot at the NFL in recent years. Former Trinity Episcopal standout Stevan Ridley is a mainstay at running back for the New England Patriots, and Richardson said he’s hoping to be the only current NHS alumnus to make it to the NFL.

“I haven’t spoken to (Ridley), but just to be a guy to come from Natchez High would be great,” Richardson said. “I can’t remember the last person from there to make it to the NFL. Doing it for the school and the city is big, and everyone is praying for me and is behind me 100 percent. That’s all I can ask for.”

Not to mention, the chance at playing in the NFL is something Richardson said he’s been dreaming of his entire life.

“I always used to watch football, and I’d say that I want to play football,” Richardson said. “I know everyone wants to play in the NFL, but not everyone can make it. Just to have a shot is a dream come true.”

The third and final day of the NFL draft begins at 11 a.m. today.

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