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December 28, 2008MORE: U.S. Army All-American Bowl coverage | Army AA Bowl rosters | More all-star coverage
SAN ANTONIO - As some of the top prospects in the nation filter through the halls at the San Antonio Grand Hyatt Hotel for the US Army All-American Bowl registration, all kinds of elite athletes with text book body types have strolled through. One player who can't be defined in a text book is St. Louis (Mo.) Gateway defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson.
Richardson at 6-foot-4, 292 pounds can play defensive tackle, defensive end, tight end and even returns kicks in high school. With 4.6 speed, it is easy to see what allows him to be that versatile. Richardson is still waiting to see which of those roles he will be playing this week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He does have a preference however.
"Hopefully it's not D-tackle," Richardson said of his position for the week. "If it is, I'll just have to buckle down and play that. Other than that, it's either tight end or d-end. I'm going to ask if I can do a couple kick returns."
The week of practice and the game is something that Richardson has been looking forward to ever since his selection and something that has kept him motivated since the disappointment of the end of his senior season.
"[Our season ended] about a month or two ago," he said. "It was a little hard to see my senior season come to an end but I got lucky enough for a guy like me to get to play collegiate ball, so it's been pretty cool"
Despite his freakish 4.6 speed, Richardson has been working harder on running than anything else in the offseason.
"I've been basically running, not too much lifting because I feel like I'm strong enough," he said. "You can always be stronger but I've been running, basically getting my speed and agility together."
Between workouts, Richardson has also been playing basketball, a sport that has helped him with his speed and athleticism growing up. Already this season, Richardson has averaged around 10 points, 9 rebounds and a couple of steals per game for his 8-1 high school team.
This week though, his focus is solely on football and as a five-star rated in the top five players nationally, there will be a lot of eyes on him.
"I always wanted to see what talent other states had to bring and as far as me being number four in the country, it has nothing to do with none of these guys," he said. "I'm just Sheldon trying to prove a point. I probably do have a target on my back but I'm just out here trying to have fun, trying to get my name up on the tv screen and do something good so that my parents can see me on tv."
A Missouri commitment, Richardson is all but done with recruiting. However, there is one program that has stayed in his ear and could have an opportunity to make a late run for his signature.
"I'm basically done with my recruitment and I told the coaches that but Miami is still consistent," he said. "I think I still might take my official there but I have to talk that over with my dad so we'll see."
The biggest selling point for Miami is that the Hurricanes will give Richardson an opportunity to play tight end, an opportunity he is very interested in. They also have been giving him plenty of love on the recruiting trail.
"They came down four times in the past month so it's pretty crazy," he said of the Miami coaches. "They're recruiting me pretty hard but it's all good and I told them I respect their college and with the tradition standpoint but I kind of want to start my own tradition with Missouri."
In fact, the tradition at Missouri is already building.
"They're already nationally ranked so it's not like they're already not there but I would love to be with a national championship team from Missouri and it's all hometown love."