FAYETTEVILLE – Even the media quickly forgot what happened on Arkansas’ annual media day, but Kevin Richardson will always remember this one.
Shortly before addressing reporters Sunday, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema addressed his Razorbacks and told them that the third-year sophomore walk-on defensive back from Jacksonville is a walk-on no more.
For paying the price, Richardson is on University of Arkansas athletic scholarship now.
“We announced K-Rich was on scholarship about a half hour ago and the place went up for grabs,” Bielema said.
Clay Jennings, Arkansas’ defensive backs coach, likened it to more joyous hallelujahs than a Sunday revival.
“I have never seen so many guys jump up and down,” Jennings said. “You would have thought they were in church today when Coach announced it. All those guys are excited for Kevin. I am excited for Kevin.”
Jennings explained why.
“This guy comes to work every day with his lunch bucket,” Jennings said. “He doesn’t shy away from any work. Anything anybody else does he wants to do 10 times more. He is what being an Arkansas Razorback is all about. He has got Razorback blood in his family. All of his brothers and sisters have gone to school here, too, so we are happy he is going to be on scholarship.”
A kinesiology major, Richardson couldn’t wait to call his parents who paid the price “for my dream,” Richardson said later of the small college scholarship offers he turned down to walk-on with the Razorbacks.
“It was extremely humbling,” Richardson said. “Gets a lot of weight off my parents’ shoulders and made me excited. This is something I have been working for since the whole time I got here. And to have it right in front of my eyes, it’s something I have dreamed of.”
The dream doesn’t cease with the scholarship.
“That doesn’t stop the grind,” Richardson said. “I am going to work like I still don’t have it.”
Bielema and Jennings expect nothing less.
“We talk about at the University of Arkansas that we don’t believe in being given anything,” Jennings said. “We want to earn everything and Kevin earned that scholarship.”
Sure did, says Bielema, citing Richardson’s scout-team work two years ago and last year playing on about every special team plus filling in anywhere and everywhere in the secondary.
“Really an incredible kid on the two-deep in two or three different spots,” Bielema said.
Now Richardson is the plugged nickel behind Henre Toliver.
“I was real comfortable with it last year,” Richardson said of working behind 2014 senior nickel Tevin Mitchel. “That was something I liked playing.”
Richardson knows Mitchel will like learning that his old understudy now plays it on scholarship.
“He was a real big part of it, pushing me every day, that ‘Just keep working. You can get that scholarship, man,’ ” Richardson said.