Thomas Richard keeps seven screws in a cup by his bedroom window.
They are a reminder of the surgery to repair a broken foot that cost him his sophomore football and basketball seasons at Christ Presbyterian Academy.
“It motivates me to wake up every morning and give it my all, and not take what I do for granted because all it takes is one injury and it can take you away for two weeks, a year or forever — you never know,” Richard said.
Richard is the No. 9 player on the GameTime Dandy Dozen best college football recruits at Midstate high schools.
The screws fastened a plate to the top of his right foot, which didn’t fully heal until late in his junior football season last year. He suffered the injury as a freshman during a basketball game.
The senior wide receiver made 55 catches for 1,072 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first full football season last year as the Lions advanced to the Class 3A semifinals. He didn’t play football as a freshman.
“I don’t think he was full speed until the playoffs,” CPA football coach Ingle Martin said.
Richard, CPA offensive tackle Paul Adams and Independence cornerback Finis Stribling have committed to Missouri.
“Pat Washington is the (Missouri) receivers coach who was at the University of Tennessee during those years (1995-2005) where they were considered Wide Receiver U with Peerless Price, Donte’ Stallworth and Kelley Washington,” Martin said. “So I think Thomas is going to be in good hands.”
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Richard has a 38-inch vertical leap and has been clocked at 4.59 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
“He’s not a straight-line burner, and that’s sort of the only thing that kept him from getting all the SEC offers,” said Barton Simmons, a national recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com. “But if you look at his explosiveness on the basketball court, his vertical, which is an elite vertical number, you can see that he has all that explosiveness that you want at a wide receiver. Throw in his ball skills and ball-tracking ability, and I think he’s got a chance to be really special.”
Richard will play four sports this season, including track and soccer.
“It’s going to be busy, but I’m looking forward to it to being my last year with my best friends and get as much out of my senior year as I possibly can,” Richard said. “It’ll be my first year in soccer.”
He helped CPA win its second straight Class AA basketball title last season as a swingman.
“I think he could play basketball in college, but I’m not certain at what level because football became his primary focus and love so he stopped playing on the AAU circuit,” CPA basketball coach Drew Maddux said. “He’s extremely gifted.”