Antonio Richardson still growing as a player, person

Richardson (6-6, 332) will look to make name bigger

Saul Young/News Sentinel
Antonio Richardson (74), center, lines up with the other members of the offensive line during practice at Haslam Field on Monday. The other linemen include, from left, Marcus Jackson, Darin Gooch, Carson Anderson, James Stone, and Zach Fulton.

Photo by Saul Young, Knoxville News Sentinel

Saul Young/News Sentinel Antonio Richardson (74), center, lines up with the other members of the offensive line during practice at Haslam Field on Monday. The other linemen include, from left, Marcus Jackson, Darin Gooch, Carson Anderson, James Stone, and Zach Fulton.

Tiny Richardson on training camp, team building and becoming a leader

How many wins would constitute a successful season for UT?

See the results »

View previous polls »

Antonio Richardson didn't become "Tiny" overnight. The evolution of his nickname began when he was 15.

"Biggy Smalls" was the first suggestion from his high school teammates. They quickly decided that was too long and shortened it to "Smalls," which later was replaced with "Big Tiny."

"It started to escalate," said the Tennessee offensive tackle, who was a star player at Ensworth before transferring to Pearl-Cohn after seven games his senior season. "Everybody in Nashville started to call me 'Tiny.' ''

He liked the moniker so much, he had it tattooed on his back. His nickname now assured, Richardson is looking to make a name for himself.

Tennessee fans won't have to remember his jersey number to recognize him. At 6-foot-6, 332 pounds, the sophomore will be the biggest guy on the offense.

While he already looks the part of an NFL lineman, he doesn't assume he can shove his way into pros on size alone. So he studies his craft, including those who practice it at the highest level.

Tennessee coaches asked players this offseason to select several NFL players at their position and figure out what makes them good at their job. That was easy for Richardson.

He first noticed Jake Long while watching the 2008 NFL draft in which the Michigan offensive tackle was taken first by the Miami Dolphins. "Amazing" came to mind when Richardson watched Long's highlight package. He picked up on something else, too.

"His body build was a lot like mine," Richardson said. "Really long, big hands, broad shoulders."

Long's pro career is worth emulating as well: four years in the NFL, four Pro Bowls.

Tyron Smith, a second-year offensive tackle with the Dallas Cowboys, also has gotten Richardson's attention.

"Tyron Smith is a really athletic guy," Richardson said. "He got into The League because he's good at pass protection. That's what I eventually want to be able to do."

A reporter asked Rich

ardson for "his weight-room measurables," prefacing the question by saying fans would want to know. Richardson was quick to accommodate: 460 pounds in the bench press, 535 or 540 in the squat, 33 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.

Another reporter asked if he thought it was odd that fans wanted to know that.

"No, I don't," he said. "As a kid, the guys I looked up to ... I wanted to know everything about them. And if someone I looked up to did something that was demeaning to their character, it hurt me."

Now, he realizes he could be someone else's role model.

"When you're off the field, it's all about setting an example," he said. "When you're on the field, you turn it on.

"My father always told me to be a gentleman on the field. But if somebody tries you as a man, you address it."

Adhering to a gentleman's code wasn't so easy for a 10-year-old living in the projects. Richardson said kids wanted to challenge "the big guy." And even then, he was the big guy.

"When I lived in the projects, we used to get in fights a lot," he said. "Growing up, I had some anger-management issues. As I got older, I learned to control my aggressiveness."

He has learned to channel that aggressiveness in football.

He also has learned to embrace the team concept of the offensive line, which he insists will be improved over last season.

"Experience and the mind-set," he cites as reason for that improvement. "We want to make a difference.

"We really want to do something special."

John Adams is a senior columnist. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 15

willblitz4bacon writes:

His parents should've named him JOHN. I seen him up close at the Orange&White game. Mr. Richardson is a mountain of a man.

TheVolSnake writes:

About our O. line and what it means to have Tiny in the Starting line.

With all five starters returning for the 2012 season, that could change, though. The leaders of the group will be guards Zach Fulton and Dallas Thomas, who both possess All-SEC potential, and they'll be joined by tackles Ja'Wuan James and Antonio Richardson and center Alex Bullard or James Stone. Sophomore Antonio “Tiny” Richardson takes over at left tackle with senior Dallas Thomas sliding to left guard. Ja’Wuan James is back at right tackle. Zach Fulton, Alex Bullard, James Stone and Marcus Jackson all who all have plenty of playing experience will battle it out for the center and right guard positions in camp (maybe, all season). Expect three of the Lineman this year to be All SEC. the scary thing is the line is comprised with only one senior the rest are Jr.s and one So.

Now it may not seem like a big thing adding Tiny to Left Tackle, but this simple move/addition is a huge deal. First of all it adds 25 pounds to the left tackle position alone, second it moves Ja’Wuan James is back at right tackle where is excelled until injuries and a need forced him to left tackle which he was satisfactory but nothing special. Third it moves senior Dallas Thomas back to left guard just like James it is the position he excels at. Allowing players back to their natural position alone will overall improve the blocking and timing of the unit.

Outlook is with a set established line in set positions, timing and cohesion will be a lot better therefore the holes will be opened up for the running game, the addition of “Tiny” Richardson at left tackle adds a instant upgrade at Left Tackle and allows players to move back to their natural positions. With Veteran back-up at every position the line will be able to substitute players this year therefore keeping the starters fresh so they will have energy and strength in the second half’s of games this year. This offensive line, for the first time in years, has a chance to be strength rather than an area of concern.

As everyone knows there will be some adjustments and but the outlook so far is great.

GOBIGO72 writes:

Good Post Snake.

Bigger_Al writes:

Snake - I am in awe of your efforts. Outstanding. But I don't remember James going to LT. I thought Dallas played LT all year last year with James at RT.

Interested to see how Kerbyson, Crowder, and Posey are used this season. Hopefully they will get some quality reps in blowout wins!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

We've come along way since Dooleys first season where we had 3 or 4 freshman starters;Center position was so bad we couldn't even snap the ball and Gooch was starting games..Simms spent the season running for his life every other play..For sure all eyes will be on the Oline and if the new coach was a good hire..It was pretty embarrassing last year when even KY and Vandy had better running games

lahvolman2 writes:

in response to TheVolSnake:

About our O. line and what it means to have Tiny in the Starting line.

With all five starters returning for the 2012 season, that could change, though. The leaders of the group will be guards Zach Fulton and Dallas Thomas, who both possess All-SEC potential, and they'll be joined by tackles Ja'Wuan James and Antonio Richardson and center Alex Bullard or James Stone. Sophomore Antonio “Tiny” Richardson takes over at left tackle with senior Dallas Thomas sliding to left guard. Ja’Wuan James is back at right tackle. Zach Fulton, Alex Bullard, James Stone and Marcus Jackson all who all have plenty of playing experience will battle it out for the center and right guard positions in camp (maybe, all season). Expect three of the Lineman this year to be All SEC. the scary thing is the line is comprised with only one senior the rest are Jr.s and one So.

Now it may not seem like a big thing adding Tiny to Left Tackle, but this simple move/addition is a huge deal. First of all it adds 25 pounds to the left tackle position alone, second it moves Ja’Wuan James is back at right tackle where is excelled until injuries and a need forced him to left tackle which he was satisfactory but nothing special. Third it moves senior Dallas Thomas back to left guard just like James it is the position he excels at. Allowing players back to their natural position alone will overall improve the blocking and timing of the unit.

Outlook is with a set established line in set positions, timing and cohesion will be a lot better therefore the holes will be opened up for the running game, the addition of “Tiny” Richardson at left tackle adds a instant upgrade at Left Tackle and allows players to move back to their natural positions. With Veteran back-up at every position the line will be able to substitute players this year therefore keeping the starters fresh so they will have energy and strength in the second half’s of games this year. This offensive line, for the first time in years, has a chance to be strength rather than an area of concern.

As everyone knows there will be some adjustments and but the outlook so far is great.

Snake, you are obviously a true Tennessee ( VFL ) fan and follower. Great insight on the o-line and I too am truely excited about the possibilities of our running game this season. The naysayers on Dooley only need to look no farther than this line to see we are on the way back up the ladder. Problem is, during these years of being down, other SEC teams have gotten better. But we will be ok.

Voltman writes:

There are words blocked off by the tiny video Please fix this KNS!!!

Navaloranges writes:

A little off the topic, but relevant to order in the ranks. Anybody else notice the "hand written" last names on the tape on the helmets have been replaced with "printed" names. I know the hand written tape has been around for a while but I'm glad Dooley changed this. Makes the team look more organized and "professional", so to speak. A little thing, but all in all a better look, IMO.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

We've come along way since Dooleys first season where we had 3 or 4 freshman starters;Center position was so bad we couldn't even snap the ball and Gooch was starting games..Simms spent the season running for his life every other play..For sure all eyes will be on the Oline and if the new coach was a good hire..It was pretty embarrassing last year when even KY and Vandy had better running games

I forgot the exact numbers, but there is a huge difference in starts from then to now in playing time. When Dooley arrived I think the OL had about 6 starts. Now it's around 120. I know the first number is close, but the second number might be even higher.

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to Navaloranges:

I forgot the exact numbers, but there is a huge difference in starts from then to now in playing time. When Dooley arrived I think the OL had about 6 starts. Now it's around 120. I know the first number is close, but the second number might be even higher.

Here is the numbers on the O. Line

The Vols enter the season featuring an offensive line with 99 starts (could be higher but Tiny is starting now) — as opposed to three, the case in Dooley’s debut season (2010).

Source was Media days

DonaldDevoe writes:

in response to TheVolSnake:

About our O. line and what it means to have Tiny in the Starting line.

With all five starters returning for the 2012 season, that could change, though. The leaders of the group will be guards Zach Fulton and Dallas Thomas, who both possess All-SEC potential, and they'll be joined by tackles Ja'Wuan James and Antonio Richardson and center Alex Bullard or James Stone. Sophomore Antonio “Tiny” Richardson takes over at left tackle with senior Dallas Thomas sliding to left guard. Ja’Wuan James is back at right tackle. Zach Fulton, Alex Bullard, James Stone and Marcus Jackson all who all have plenty of playing experience will battle it out for the center and right guard positions in camp (maybe, all season). Expect three of the Lineman this year to be All SEC. the scary thing is the line is comprised with only one senior the rest are Jr.s and one So.

Now it may not seem like a big thing adding Tiny to Left Tackle, but this simple move/addition is a huge deal. First of all it adds 25 pounds to the left tackle position alone, second it moves Ja’Wuan James is back at right tackle where is excelled until injuries and a need forced him to left tackle which he was satisfactory but nothing special. Third it moves senior Dallas Thomas back to left guard just like James it is the position he excels at. Allowing players back to their natural position alone will overall improve the blocking and timing of the unit.

Outlook is with a set established line in set positions, timing and cohesion will be a lot better therefore the holes will be opened up for the running game, the addition of “Tiny” Richardson at left tackle adds a instant upgrade at Left Tackle and allows players to move back to their natural positions. With Veteran back-up at every position the line will be able to substitute players this year therefore keeping the starters fresh so they will have energy and strength in the second half’s of games this year. This offensive line, for the first time in years, has a chance to be strength rather than an area of concern.

As everyone knows there will be some adjustments and but the outlook so far is great.

Good news is all 5 starters are back. Bad news is all 5 starters are back. I just hope we fire off the ball and knock some snot bubbles out of the opposing d-lines. Seems like we had a decent running game when Sims at QB cause he got them in the right play. Which is funny cause you know the opposing defense was not too concerned about his passing like they were with Bray. I say it was Bray's fault the Vols were so brutal at running the ball. I will blame him again if Vols can't run it. Rocky top you'll always be.........

Navaloranges writes:

in response to TheVolSnake:

Here is the numbers on the O. Line

The Vols enter the season featuring an offensive line with 99 starts (could be higher but Tiny is starting now) — as opposed to three, the case in Dooley’s debut season (2010).

Source was Media days

Night and day from when Dooley arrived to now in terms of player experience and depth, especially on the OL. Some don't get the difference between experienced and non-experienced players. There is a huge jump from freshmen to junior. Only a handful of players have the lightbulb come on in their first year, and are able to contribute. Probably 1 in 50 or something like that. That doesn't mean the others aren't going to get it. The OL is a hard position to play, mentally, as a freshman. The same players that struggled then as freshmen, can become all SEC now as juniors. Happens all the time.

kazoo writes:

I want to think that this OL will be good and knock people down--but we haven't blocked well the last year or two, and OLinemen tend NOT to get better with experience, I've found. They are either good blockers or they are not.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to kazoo:

I want to think that this OL will be good and knock people down--but we haven't blocked well the last year or two, and OLinemen tend NOT to get better with experience, I've found. They are either good blockers or they are not.

You haave found that huh? So, you're saying right out of HS they can either play D1 OL or they cannot. Sorry, but you're wrong and I could sit here and name OLinemen that had terrible freshmen seasons and went on to the NFL all day long. The fact is, a good Line coach can take an athletic OL prospect and make or brake his college career. Now, the mental part is a different story. It takes a lot of football smarts to play OL, some never achieve the upper level because they can't see assignments on the fly. There is no way of telling which of our guys, if any will not be able to improve on the mental skills, until we see how they've progressed. But this statement...

"OLinemen tend NOT to get better with experience..."

...just isn't true at all. In fact, college players ALL get better with experience. Even players like Al Wilson and Eric Berry.

Noogaorange writes:

in response to kazoo:

I want to think that this OL will be good and knock people down--but we haven't blocked well the last year or two, and OLinemen tend NOT to get better with experience, I've found. They are either good blockers or they are not.

Kidding right....you can't be serious!
All players improve some more than others but even the really really goood ones get better for pete's sake. GBO

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features