Oct. 1, 2008
For the last three years Seminole fans have been anxious to see prized quarterback recruit D’Vontrey Richardson line up under center. With Florida State posting back-to-back 7-6 records some fans couldn’t understand why Richardson, as gifted an athlete as there has been at FSU in many years, wasn’t getting his shot.
Richardson was wondering the same thing but if you sit down and ask the redshirt sophomore if he still feels
the same way today, you may be surprised by the candor of his answer.
“Looking back on it, I definitely wasn’t ready. There were so many things I needed to know but I didn’t at
that time. I wasn’t taking things seriously, like learning the playbook.”
The 2005 Georgia Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year, Richardson never seemed destined for a career
as a Seminole. Despite his adoration of FSU’s Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, Richardson was not even
looking at Florida State early in the recruiting process.
Getting the player, affectionately called D’Vo by his teammates to Tallahassee was one thing but getting
him to concentrate on challenging for the starting job was a whole separate issue. By his own admission he did
not put due diligence into learning the playbook of a new offensive coordinator, which was compounded when
he spent the first spring under Jimbo Fisher playing baseball for the Seminoles.
While Drew Weatherford, Xavier Lee and Christian Ponder were working to absorb the new playbook,
Richardson was hitting .351 and starting 35 games for the nationally-ranked Florida State baseball team. With
each day that went by, Richardson became more enamored with the idea of playing baseball fulltime.
“My freshman year when I was playing baseball. I started to think about concentrating on baseball fulltime.
I was missing spring football and all the quarterbacks were getting a head start in coach Fisher’s system.
I told myself at that point I was just going to concentrate on baseball.”
As much as Richardson loves the game of baseball, he did make up his mind this past spring to give it up,
at least temporarily, and concentrate on football. That decision involved more than just walking onto the Al
Dunlap Practice Fields instead of Dick Howser Stadium, which are right next to one another.
He made the decision to change the way he approached football as well. He shifted his mindset from just
going out to football each day and getting through each practice, to totally committing himself to doing everything
it took on and off the field to begin challenging for the starting job.
“When I decided to make football my priority over baseball I committed myself to do it 100% and
not slack at all. I started to study the playbook and whenever I stepped on the field I was going to go all
or nothing. I didn’t want to have any regrets. I knew I was going to make some mistakes out there. I was
really just trying to give it everything I had.”
You’d think that is where the happy ending portion of the story would begin but even with his new
found dedication, Richardson wasn’t seeing any results as far as progressing up a crowded depth chart.
Weatherford entered spring as the number one QB with three years of starting experience under his belt.
Ponder had wowed his coaches when he was forced into action during the Virginia Tech game and looked
like a solid number two. Even when Weatherford was injured this spring and Richardson’s practice repetitions
increased, he was still debating on whether he made the right choice to quit baseball, or whether he
was playing the right position on the football field.
“During the spring, I was doing everything asked of me 100% but I didn’t get much of a chance with the
first team. I was wondering to myself why not? I was doing a much better job in my own mind but I hadn’t
gotten my shot. I was thinking that once Drew (Weatherford) got healthy and came back I would just change
positions so there would be just two quarterbacks.
Talking to my family and coach Fisher they kept telling me patience, patience, patience. As a quarterback
most of the time you have to be patient because very few come in and play right away. I took that advice and
have been trying to work on being a more patient person.”
This fall as two-a-days neared, Richardson not only put his new found patience into play but he also found
a new determination to compete. Gone was any thought of switching positions and his one goal was to become
the starting quarterback at Florida State.
“One day I came in and I told my cousin Ashuwa I would be the starting quarterback before the year was over
with. That has been my goal. Whatever happens, that motivates me to keep pushing. If two-a-days started and I was
fourth-string, I would just keep pushing and keep my mind focused on my goal and that is to lead this team.”
Richardson proved to everyone around him that he was taking this goal seriously as he not only pushed
Ponder and Weatherford all pre-season but he played so well he forced coach Fisher to delay naming a starting
quarterback until just three days before the season opener.
While Richardson may have come in second to Ponder, he was not at all despondent when coach Fisher
told him the decision.
“When Christian was named the starter I didn’t get down at all. I was happy for him. As long as we win, that is all I care about. I just want to win ballgames.
“We are friends. We joke around. We are roommates when we go to Thomasville. We are both competitors but we don’t let the competition get between our friendship.”
As was evidenced by the first game of the season,
Richardson isn’t your typical second-string
quarterback. While he is not officially platooning
with Ponder, Fisher has made it very clear they will
be a one-two punch throughout the season.
“I would describe my current role as an off-speed
pitch. We have a high-powered offense
and there are a lot of playmakers on the field.
Whenever coach Fisher wants to do something a
little different he will stick me out there. That’s
what I would call myself.
“I think I have a role to play every week. I think I
have earned my right to play. I have to keep grinding
though. I need to keep pushing and not give up.”
When Richardson says he has earned the
right to play each week this time around, he can
say it with confidence. Unlike earlier in his career
when he felt he may have been entitled to playing
time, he has shown everyone involved with
FSU football he has earned it.
“People were telling me how much potential I
had to be a great athlete but I wasn’t taking it seriously.
I was just going out there and just making it
through each day without really working at it. Everybody
was telling me that I needed to buckle down. I
started to do that finally. I didn’t really notice how
much my focus shifted until the people around me
started to notice. My teammates were making comments
to me about how much I had changed.
“I feel better about where I am today on and
off the field but I have to keep working. I can’t
give up now. I have to keep my head on straight
and keep God first in my life.”
That one statement alone tells you the super
prospect from just an hour and a half north of Tallahassee
has come a long way in just a short time.
By Elliott Finebloom Associate Sports Information Director