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Rice recruit not discouraged by Owls struggles

Isaiah Richardson can’t wait to join Rice secondary. And perhaps the feeling is mutual

NCAA Football: Rice at Southern Mississippi
Rice cornerback T.J. Blasingame, left, and safety T.T. Ibe try to catch up to Southern Miss receiver Allenzae Staggers on a 93-yard pass play. Rice ranks 127th out of 128 teams in pass defense this season.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

While Rice’s pass defense has been among the worst in the nation this season, about 30 miles west Isaiah Richardson already is trying to determine how he can help.

Richardson, a 6-foot, 193-pound senior cornerback, has been one of the defensive standouts for Foster High School in Richmond.

“I’ve been working on perfecting my craft,” Richardson said. “I’m trying not to let anyone catch passes on me this year.”

Richardson and his teammate, linebacker Garrett Grammar, have verbally committed to Rice. In practice, Richardson often has to deal with defending wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, a 4-star recruit verbally committed to Oklahoma.

Grammer and Richardson are part of a 2017 recruiting class that is considered the best in Conference USA. With Rice off to an 0-5 start this season, some fans have already turned the page to 2017.

Rice’s 2016 pass defense ranks No. 127 out of 128 FBS teams. The Owls give up an average of 355 yards a contest. Nonetheless, Richardson is not worried.

“I’ve been following the Owls and have been to a couple of games,” he said. “They’ve gotten off to a slow start. They have some injured players right now, but they will be fine.”

Considered a 3-star recruit, Richardson received offers to SMU, Navy and Yale and was looked at by several other FBS programs. He committed to Rice on June 8. While recruits have been known to flip or be flipped (an Ole Miss scout was in the press box Thursday to watch Lamb), Richardson said after Thursday’s game he’s still sold in Rice.

“I’m really looking forward to next year,” he said.

Richardson has been praised for showing good instincts and puts himself in good position to prevent receivers from making plays.

In Foster’s 61-17 win over Calhoun Thursday, Richardson didn’t get many chances to defend the pass since the Sandcrabs rarely throw. Instead he concentrated on stopping the run. The good instincts were evident in his decisions where to go for the tackle defending Calhoun’s triple option.

If Rice’s 2016 season spins out of control, at least fans can make the short drive west to see that help is on the way.