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A Physical Mindset

Posted Apr 6, 2012

Alabama running back Trent Richardson said he'll never stop working on his game, but one thing he already has is a love for contact.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram formed one of the most feared running back tandems in college football for two seasons, and the Alabama Crimson Tide took home the 2010 BCS National Championship.

In 2011, with Ingram on the New Orleans Saints, Richardson had the Bama backfield to himself -- and he delivered.

The 5-foot-9, 228-pound NFL prospect rushed for nearly 1,700 yards, and became just the third player in Southeastern Conference history to rush for at least 20 touchdowns, joining Florida's Tim Tebow and Auburn's Cam Newton.

The Doak Walker Award winner, presented to the nation's top running back, took home his second BCS National Championship as the Tide shut out the previously undefeated LSU Tigers to cap off Richardson's highly decorated college career.

In those two BCS National Championship games, Richardson totaled 205 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

Now he's ready to bring his physicality, "quality and effort" to the next level.

"When it comes down to it, I’ll be the dude that’s on the field and getting the ball on third-and-3 or fourth-and-1, and not to be cocky or anything, but I work on my game every day," Richardson said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Even if it’s not physical stuff, I work in the classroom learning plays and learning the defensive line and what the linebackers and safeties are doing so I can pick up my blitzes. I love to block. Everybody knows I can run the ball. I’ve never been caught from behind, so if anyone wants to question my speed, just look at the tape. When it comes to playing football, any game you want to just look at -- try to find a negative. A lot of people try to find a negative in your game and there aren’t too many negatives I have. I don’t fumble. That’s one thing that I do not do."

Richardson said he never stops striving to get better, to become a more complete back. While he had success catching the ball in college -- he caught three touchdowns in 2011 -- that's an aspect of his game he wants to work on in addition to his blocking and knowledge of defenses.

The potential top-10 pick said he sees a little of himself in both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, former teammates with the New York Giants who he watched over the past few years. He listed Ingram, Adrian Peterson, Ricky Williams, DeAngelo Williams, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice and Arian Foster as influences in his game -- all of whom he called "running backs who can do everything."

"When you've got guys like that that are complete and the best -- Adrian Peterson’s not coming off the field when it’s third down or when it’s fourth-and-1, they’re giving him the ball and he’s got a nose for that ball," Richardson said. "All those type of guys, they got a nose for the end zone and a hunger for it. You can tell it’s in them."

He hopes teams can see that same hunger in him from watching his game tape.

Speaking of his tape, Richardson smiled when asked about his claim that he's never been caught from behind, saying it goes all the way back to his little league days.

But he doesn't rely solely on his speed.

"I love contact," Richardson beamed. "When it comes down to it, are you going to hit me or am I going to hit you? Nine times out of 10, I’m going to hit you."

That's not to say he doesn't understand there's a new type of physicality in the NFL, but he's ready -- and even excited -- for it.

"It’s a mindset thing with me," Richardson said. "I’m not saying that Ray Lewis ain’t going to take me out, because when it comes down to it, we’re going to have to see each other in the hole. And I love Uncle Ray to death and he’s going to bring me all the contact he can and beat me up in the hole, but why would you stand down in front of that?"

He doesn't know exactly where he'll be selected, and he said he'll try not to focus on being a certain pick, but Richardson can't wait for April 26.

"I'm getting my hopes up for draft day," he smiled.

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