COLUMBIA -As recruits around the country signed Letters of Intent on Wednesday, Missouri's top player said he is staying home for his college football career.
Sheldon Richardson, a tight end and defensive end prospect rated the No. 4 recruit in the country by Rivals.com, signed Wednesday morning at Gateway Tech High School in St. Louis. The addition rounded out Missouri’s 2009 recruiting class at 25 players.
Richardson, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound senior from Gateway Tech, committed verbally to Missouri in June 2007 but received offers from multiple top-tier schools, including Miami, Oklahoma and Florida. Richardson visited Miami last weekend but chose to stick with Missouri.
“I love my home state and I wasn’t leaving unless I found something better,” Richardson said during a phone interview shortly after signing his Letter of Intent.
Richardson said he made his decision at 7 a.m. this morning. How close was he to signing with Miami?
“Fifty-fifty. It was up in the air,” he said.
Richardson said his family played a big role in his decision.
“My mother, of course, because she’s a Mizzou grad," he said, "she didn’t even want me to look at Miami."
Richardson said Miami’s warm weather and beaches were tempting, but he wanted to stay close to home.
“It just came down to which school I would enjoy more and have a better college experience,” Richardson said. “It (Missouri) just felt like home.”
Richardson said he wants to play both offense and defense at Missouri. Cornell Ford, a Missouri assistant coach who recruited Richardson, told the highly-touted prospect that he would have a chance to play tight end and defensive end, Richardson said.
Melvin Walls, Richardson’s high school coach, said Richardson also played fullback, linebacker and wide receiver in high school, and he even returned punts. Walls said he would like to see Richardson play defensive end, but that he is the type of athlete who could play both ways.
“The speed and quickness that he has, the people in front of him are going to have trouble,” said Walls about Richardson as a defensive end.