BOULDER — Freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson has been cleared by the University of Colorado to begin practicing with the football team immediately, school officials announced Friday afternoon.
Richardson, a 6-1, 175-pounder from Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., originally signed a letter-of-intent with UCLA. However, following an off the field incident with two other recruits, he was released from the school and free to attend another school anywhere in the nation.
After meeting extensively with CU academic and athletic officials, he was admitted to the university. He already had met CU and NCAA academic and admission requirements and will be on athletic scholarship.
Athletic director Mike Bohn said that Richardson underwent a rigorous review process, including reviews of his histories in regard to academic performance and personal conduct. Bohn also spoke at length with UCLA officials regarding his status and the nuances of the incident, which did not produce felony charges.
Coach Dan Hawkins has advised Richardson on the value of this opportunity, and that the expectations for him are to be consistent with the values of the team, the athletic department and the university.
For his part, Richardson is definitely looking at this as a second chance. “This is definitely a second chance. I made it to a big-name university. I made a mistake and God has blessed me with another opportunity to redeem myself ... so I plan to just put it behind me and learn from it. I’ve moved past it and I’m ready to move forward.
“My family supported me the whole way,” he added. “We’re a very religious family, so we just stayed in prayer. God made a way; He blessed me with this opportunity, so I’m going to make the most of it. It was definitely a humbling experience, definitely. That was the biggest thing ... it humbled me a lot.”
As a senior last fall at Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., he earned Prep Star and SuperPrep All-America honors, the latter of which ranked him as the No. 26 receiver in the nation and No. 20 player in the Far West region, while Scout.com tabbed him as the No. 141 national prospect (the No. 22 receiver overall) and the No. 20 player in California. Rivals.com ranked him as the No. 44 player in the state and the No. 38 receiver nationally, with ESPN.com ranking him as the No. 66 receiver in the country. He was also a member of the Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100.
He caught 31 passes for 552 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 17.8 yards per catch, with a pair of 100-yard games (3 catches for 128 yards, 2 TDs vs. St. Bernard and 3-100, 2 TDs versus Carson). Del Ray was 15-0 his senior season under coach Scott Altenberg, claiming the state, CIF Southern Section and Del Ray League titles.
As a junior at Los Alamitos High School, he caught 48 passes for 809 yards, 16.9 per, with 13 touchdowns and four 100-yard games. Top games that year came in wins against Marina (4 catches for 156 yards and 3 TDs) and versus Narbonne (4-124, 4 TDs). His sophomore year, he pulled down 31 receptions for 587 yards, 18.9 per, and eight touchdowns. He had his prep-best yardage game as a soph, with six receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown in a 13-9 win over Edison. Thus overall in his prep career, he caught 110 passes for 1,948 yards (17.7), with 28 touchdowns and eight 100-yard games. He played some defensive back sporadically as a prep, with seven pass deflections, two forced fumbles and two recoveries over three seasons.
Colorado had been on his radar before he signed with the Bruins. “I was being recruited by (the Buffs) and they definitely were a favorite. My quarterback (Clark Evans) was here from high school, so that definitely helped. But after a few visits I made my decision early.”
Richardson can’t wait to get on the field. “So far the players I’ve met are really great guys and the coaches are great. I just can’t wait to hit the field (tonight). I haven’t been on the field in a while, so I’m just anxious to get back out there.”
He is the son of former UCLA receiver Paul Richardson, Sr.