Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

August 28, 2012

Concord secondary is a primary strength

ATHENS — Not only is Riyadh Richardson No. 1 on the numerical roster of the Concord University football team, he earned the No. 1 ranking in the West Virginia Conference last season in the passes defended category, with 16.

With four interceptions, 12 pass break-ups and 58 tackles, the 5-foot-10 cornerback helped the Mountain Lions to the conference championship and an NCAA playoff appearance.

His individual exploits led to first-team all-conference honors, honorable mention in the regional list of Don Hansen’s Football Gazette, and most recently, honorable mention on the preseason all-America team of the Beyond Sports College Network, announced in June.

It’s about time, the South Carolina native said.

“Ever since my first year, I’ve been trying to get pre-season All-American [or] All-American — just some kind of accolade,” he said in a media opportunity at Callaghan Stadium.

Entering his junior year, he knows to spread the credit around. He said, “I definitely wouldn’t have been able to get it without my D-line, my offense and my coaches.”

When the defensive line is applying pressure, he noted, the result is “picks, they get sacks, three-and-outs. You’re off the field. That’s perfect!”

He has distinctive comments to add about each of his teammates expected to start in the defensive backfield. He began with Davon Marion of Mount Hope, who last played late in 2010 before undergoing neck surgery.

“We got Davon Marion. He is a monster. We’re glad to have him back. Our senior corner returning, Nate Pollard, he’s the workhorse. He’s out there on his own island.

“We’ve got some freshmen coming in at safety, but our starting safety is Kevin Elliott. He’s going to be a senior. ... He’s my man, in there.”

Head coach Garin Justice said about Richardson, “We’re lucky we have Riyadh. He’s a solid, sound corner.”

He said about Marion, “He was actually our leading tackler when he got hurt. We’re anticipating great things from Davon.”

About Pollard, Justice said, “He’s the guy who won’t be turned down. His attitude is, ‘We’re going to find a way to win.’ ”

Justice said that Elliott’s high grade point average shows his commitment to “do things the right way. He’s kind of the field general back there. He makes sure everybody’s lined up correctly and keeps everybody on the same page, so to speak.”

Richardson said, “It all starts with our defensive back coach, Coach [Steve] Adams. You can tell he’s in love with the game, that he loves what he does. He just brings all of us together as one.”

Richardson’s speed helps get him to the ball. Marion, who previously was on the football squad at West Virginia, is a load at 212 pounds. Pollard is 5-foot-8 but his smarts help him to be in position to defend. Elliott, a multi-sport star in high school, is a dependable performer who made five tackles in Concord’s playoff game last fall.

Richardson said, “Everybody comes from different backgrounds, but once you get in there on the football field, everybody’s one.”

The Mountain Lions needed production from its offense last year, which scored 23.2 points per game to obtain an average margin of victory of slightly more than three points in a 7-4 season. Included in that was a 17-14 loss to Kutztown (Pa.) in the NCAA Division II playoffs.

Richardson predicts different numbers in the season that starts Saturday night in Athens against Lenoir-Rhyne University from North Carolina.

He said, “I believe our offense’s scoring is going to go way up, because we’ve got everybody returning from the offense from last year, most everybody, except for our all-American center Brandon Link ... and B.K. [running back Brian Kennedy]. I can’t forget him.”

“Our offense is going to put up numerous points. And our defense, this whole year, all we want to see is a goose-egg, zero. That’s all we want to see.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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