Just two weeks after Cordarrian Richardson ended his official Ole Miss visit by claiming there was “a 90 percent chance” he’d sign with the Rebels, the four-star running back has announced that he instead plans to sign with Maryland.
Richardson was thought to be a heavy Ole Miss lean as recently as 24 hours ago, but abruptly told reporters on the afternoon before National Signing Day that he intended to delay his decision long enough to take an official visit to Michigan State. But hours later, he told those same reporters that he was calling off his trip to East Lansing and would in fact put pen to paper on Wednesday.
Richardson held offers from the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and Michigan, yet only took official visits to Ole Miss, Rutgers and UCF. That, combined with the fact that his whacky recruitment took a series of late turns before landing him at Maryland, suggest he could be a grade risk.
UPDATE: Rivals reporter Adam Friedman has confirmed that Richardson will face “an uphill battle to qualify.”
Hugh Freeze clearly didn’t expect him to sign. Around the time that Richardson announced his intended delay, Ole Miss extended an offer to unrated running back Isaiah Woullard, who’d been waiting around to see if the Rebels would have room. Freeze reportedly told Woullard that he would be the only running back to join the Rebels’ 2017 class.
Either way, missing out on Richardson is tough blow to a program who’s only four-star offensive commit, D.D. Bowie, is expected to flip to Mississippi State on Wednesday. It also means that Ole Miss, which watched five-star Cam Akers sign with Florida State earlier this month, loses out another potential feature running back.
That’s problematic for new offensive coordinator Phil Longo, who, despite his reputation as a pass-happy Air Raid coach, was hired in part to redesign a Rebel ground attack that struggled in 2016.
“I want to run the football downhill. I want a very physical aspect to the offense,” Phil Longo said during his first public comments after being hired as the Rebels’ new offensive coordinator. “I know that’s a priority for most OC’s, and it’s not rhetoric with me.”
Presumptive starter Jordan Wilkins and veteran backup Eugene Brazley will both graduate next season and while 2015 four-star Eric Swinney turned heads in spring camp last year, he’s coming off of ACL surgery. A lot could be riding on the development of former four-star and rising sophomore D’Vaughn Pennamon, who carried the ball just 20 times last season.