“GET THE FRESHMAN QUARTERBACK WARMED UP! WE NEED HIM!”
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that line, or a variation of that line, uttered at a game, at a bar, or amongst a group of tailgaters, I wouldn’t be living in Ames anymore. I’d be sitting on my yacht along the Florida Keys enjoying a mimosa because I could. I’d have too much money to care about what people think of how feminine my drinks are.
Sam Richardson also didn’t let the public phase him. They story was unfolding in a similar way that he took over the starting quarterback job. Just as he ushered out the Steele Jantz/Jared Barnett era in the final three games of the 2012 season, deja vu with Grant Rohach happened against the same opponents in the final two games of 2013 — and doing it better.
Last season’s blunder with injuries could have been Richardson’s final chapter in Iowa State football history. Done. Over. Kaput.
Rohach continued to dominate in the spring, and it was almost an assurance that we would be the starter after fall camp. Except no one paid attention to what Richardson was doing in the offseason. Rohach didn’t regress; the former quarterback from Winter Park, Florida, strapped it in and took it upon himself to bulk up and do everything he could to avoid another injury plagued season.
He took the criticisms of durability and went to the gym with it. He took the challenge of learning a new offense under Mark Mangino and kept chipping away at it until even after fall camp started.
“It took a week into camp, actually,” Richardson said on getting comfortable and earning the position.”It was going out there with a new focus and trying to get the job. Once they noticed that I was trying to work to get there, they noticed it and gave me more reps.”
Interestingly enough, it was exactly a week into camp when word spread that Richardson looked great in his first scrimmage.
“The main thing I was focusing on was consistency, and that was one thing that stood out between the two of us.”
Indeed, the junior quarterback completed 70 percent of his passes during scrimmage. The guy had a fire under him and did everything he could to get back into the spotlight heading into this season, and he did it. He didn’t care what the people said around him as he faded last season. He wasn’t going to have the same finale as Jantz’s lonely exit or utilize the transfer route like Barnett did.
Richardson was going to get back on the field, and he was going to do it with the Cyclones. Now we’ll see if he’ll have to hear screams for Joel Lanning when the team is down by 30 against Baylor in the first quarter, or if he’ll look at game tapes from a successful season 10 years down the road on his yacht in the Florida Keys while sipping on a Metropolitan.
What? We don’t all have the same dreams I do?