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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Richards seeks alpha dog role


Tyler Baker/Arizona Summer Wildcat

Arizona wide reciever David Richards (4) stretches with teammates before the spring scrimmage at Arizona Stadium on April 10.

Being a senior in the Arizona football program carries some special privileges.

For one, you get a nice picture of yourself on the practice field wall. Then, on the final day of practice, you get carried off the field by teammates like you’re royalty. Oh, and you never have to worry about getting pranked by upperclassmen.

Plus, if you’re David Richards, you get to go to Pac-12 Football Media Days.

That last part might not sound like so much fun. But for Richards, the trip to Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif., included a chance to enjoy the California sun and eat at a couple nice steakhouses. All on company’s dime.

“It was a blast,” Richards said. “You’ve got to tip your hat off to Coach [Rich Rodriguez]. We’ve been out here a couple years working for him, so to be able to do that is definitely a reward for us.”

The trip was fun and the T-bone steaks were delicious, but Richards is ready to get back to work and embrace his role as the senior leader on a wide receiving core that will need to stay sharp if the Wildcats are to repeat as Pac-12 South champions.

This year will be a much different situation for Richards now that he’s expected to be one of quarterback Anu Solomon’s top targets.

Last season, the player from Palmdale, Calif., played sparingly. He finished the year with 23 total receptions for 211 yards and just one touchdown, against Colorado.

Expect to see more passes come his way this season.

“I have to go out there and lead by example,” Richards said. “We have a lot of young receivers who could potentially play a lot this year, so they have to have a role model who they can look up to.”

By that, Richards doesn’t just mean his play on the field.

Like Austin Hill last fall, Richards is there to offer a mature, even quiet presence.

“Me and [Austin] are kind of the same guy,” Richards said. “We don’t really talk too much. We’re not the ‘hoorah’ kind of guys, but we go out there and set an example for the younger players.”

Given how Arizona’s coaching staff doesn’t hold back on the yelling and screaming, an older figure like Richards almost needs to exude composure to help the new guys.

And there are quite a lot of new guys, especially on the offensive line where Arizona is losing three starters.

However, Richards likes what he’s seen early on from the group.

“They’re looking good today from what I can see,” Richards said. “Freddie [Tagaloa] definitely stepped in, and he’s going to be a great player this year. But I don’t think we’ll have too much of a drop off. They all worked hard in the summer and got stronger, and I think they’ll take a step up this year.”

Those are encouraging words from a guy who has worked with his fair share of offensive lines since arriving in Tucson as a Mike Stoops recruit.

Richards and the Arizona program have come a long way since then, thanks largely to the leadership of previous guys in the same spot that Richards is in now.

Belief trickles down from the top, and if Richards puts assurance in his teammates, they’ll have to follow lead.

“We feel confident in ourselves,” Richards said. “We’re the Pac-12 South champions for a reason.”

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