The memorable moment produced a vision of Big Ten Conference football future. Here was the future University of Michigan Wolverine facing a future Michigan State University Spartan.
A long pass sent the ball toward the corner of the end zone last Saturday night in the featured game of the three-day Big Day Prep Showdown at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich.
, the MSU verbal commitment, of nationally-ranked and 2010 Michigan Division 2 champion Harrison (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
cruised into position to catch the long ball for a touchdown. Suddenly, Terry Richardson
, the Michigan recruit, of Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.)
leaped into the air with his arms stretched out toward the ball. He knocked the ball away as the thousands of fans ooohed.
How many times can we anticipate this defensive back versus wide receiver match-up in the annual game played between Michigan and Michigan State?
"Me and Aaron, we went at it all night," Richardson said. "I had fun playing against him. Basically, when the ball went up, I tried to jump."
It is exactly that kind of athletic play which has made Richardson, 16, the next-to-youngest child in a family of nine, one of the most-recruited defensive backs in the nation. Richardson, 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, is the No. 33 overall recruit in the nation
, according to MaxPreps.com/CBS recruiting expert Tom Lemming.
"Forget his lack of height. With his anticipation, timing and vertical leap, Richardson can play with any CB in the country," Lemming says in his analysis of Richardson. "Explosive and confident, he‘s a lockdown corner and a five-star player with the ability to become a standout as a true freshman."
Said Thomas Wilcher, who is Richardson's coach at Cass Tech and a former running back at U-M in the 1980s: "I think Terry is learning. He's learning what a big-time player's got to be. I think that if Terry keeps working, he'll be all right."
Richardson's passion for the game can't be questioned. On the play against Burbridge, Richardson injured a calf muscle. The game was stopped for nearly five minutes while the injury was assessed and then Richardson slowly limped off the field.
Less than five minutes after that, Richardson was back standing on the sidelines, helmet in hand, ready to go back into the game. In time, he did. Richardson not only plays at cornerback for Cass Tech, but he is also on the field for nearly every offensive play as a wide receiver, and he is also a scoring threat as a returner on kickoffs and punts.
"Me, personally, I'm a passionate player," Richardson said. "Win, lose or draw, I like to come out and at least give it my all. That's what I tried tonight."
On this particular night, Richardson's defensive stop on Burbridge, one pass reception for 11 yards and three kick returns for 70 yards were meager highlights on a disastrous night for the Technicians at Eastern Michigan University‘s home stadium. Cass Tech won its first 12 games in 2010 before losing to Lake Orion in the Division 1 semifinals, but began this year's season with a 43-7 loss to Harrison (No. 15 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25).
Richardson is hoping for much better things the rest of the season, which continues Thursday against Detroit Central.
"This is my senior year," he said. "Luckily this is the first game, so we can bounce back all year. Our team needed this. We need this fire so we can fight back and play hard."
2012 Michigan - Terry Richardson interview
Looking on from the stands Saturday, as they do at every game, were Richardson's parents, Linda and Terry Sr., plus many other family members. Linda and Terry Sr. are easy to spot. They're the ones wearing the blue Cass Tech jerseys, with the number 9 and Richardson's name on the back. The family support includes eight brothers and sisters, and only 14-year-old Keviyan is younger than Terry, who will turn 17 years old on Sept. 15.
"They give me a lot of support," Richardson said. "I love my family. Without them, I wouldn't be the man I am today."
Richardson also gets that support from Wilcher, who wants to mold this team into another state-title contender.
"He's a great kid to be with, a great kid to talk to," Wilcher said of Richardson. "He's a great kid to be around, the kind of kid you want to love as a son. So that's where you get a chance to get the nurturing in, and that's where it comes in, to try to make him a better player, a better person."
And when it comes football, mom is in charge. Terry Richardson Sr. is a baseball man, he coached Terry Jr. when he was younger. But it was Linda Richardson who nudged young Terry toward football. Now Terry Jr. plays football and runs track.
"If it weren't for my mom," Terry Jr. said, "I probably wouldn't even be playing football now. I look at everything as a blessing and I'm just thankful right now."
Richardson began playing football at age 8, overcoming size disadvantages with his speed and tremendous leaping ability. It ultimately led him to at least 16 major-college scholarship offers, a number of visits to college campuses and the chance to wear the maize and blue at U-M. He verbaled to Michigan this past May, turning down offers by Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Alabama, among others.
Terry Richardson - Cass Tech, MI
"He‘s been excited the last couple of years, with the camps and the traveling and the visiting of the schools and everything," said Linda Richardson. "Yes, he‘s excited about his senior year."
While there has been talk online among fan message boards that Terry Richardson plans on taking some official visits to campuses, he maintains he is solidly committed to U-M.
"I‘m still Michigan," he said. "I love Michigan and the (coaching) staff. That‘s where I‘m going to be at. Go Blue."Paul Bowker, an online and newspaper sports journalist for 25 years and the author of two Major League Baseball books, covers the Upper Midwest area for MaxPreps. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org