Everyone wanted Paul Richardson on their team. Excluding Stanford, the entire Pac-12 conference was after Richardson and it eventually came down to a game of timing. He wanted to leave California and that very feeling would land him in Colorado in 2010. Richardson has since pursued the dream that his father, who played in the NFL, had birthed in him and is continuing to climb the ranks as a player.
“Following his footsteps was fun,” Richardson said. “It’s great doing some of the things he did and surpass him because that means more to him that he was able to see me do it.”
In the spring of his sophomore year, Richardson suffered a knee injury that would change the course of his college career. After leading his team for his first two seasons, Richardson learned to be patient in the recovery process while also maintaining his self confidence.
Now a redshirt junior, Richardson is the leading wide receiver for the Colorado Buffaloes and ranks ninth all-time on the touchdown reception list at his school. He is also one of the highest rated NFL draft prospects in his class.
What made Richardson the player he is today isn’t something that he accounted for when he entered college as Scout.com’s No. 22 receiver in the nation. After leading the Buffaloes in his first two seasons, Richardson suffered a torn ACL in the spring of his junior year. He returned to practice by the end of the season, but it was largely due to the support of his family, specifically his brother who would help him get out of bed everyday.
“I had to fly one of my brothers out here to help come take care of me because I couldn’t even lift my own leg,” Richardson said. “He had to lift my leg and pull me out of bed. [The family] stayed in prayer with me and made sure that I didn’t doubt myself so that my nine-to-12-month recovery didn’t turn into a year-in-a-half to two-year recovery.”
Following the injury, Richardson feels he has become a stronger player. In addition to receiving support from his family, Richardson gained inspiration from players like Adrian Peterson, who has become the role model for recovering from an ACL tear. Richardson overcame a potentially career-ending injury and has turned it into a positive.
“Watching Adrian Peterson was amazing,” Richardson said. “That gave me motivation as far as just knowing that ‘hey you’re going to be alright’ and ever since I touched the field I was never worried about my knee.”
Now recovered, Richardson is back to focusing on helping his team win games and surpassing his father as a player. Richardson has already racked up 487 receiving yards on 26 receptions, has pulled in five touchdowns and is back on pace to move up in the all-time receiving lists at Colorado. Considering he was sitting in his dorm room with a brace on his knee just a year ago, Richardson has become an inspiration himself for other college players to remain confident in their game during a time of injury.
“It’s helped me because I’ve gotten stronger,” Richardson said. “I’ve gotten faster, I’ve gotten a little bigger and I’m able to recover better.”