Cornerback Courtney Richmond a surprise contender for starting job

    Courtney Richmond

    Courtney Richmond
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    Aug 14, 2013

    By Tom Weber
    SIUSalukis.com

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - One of the big question marks on the Southern Illinois defense last spring was who would play the cornerback position opposite senior stalwart Terrell Wilson? The coaching staff brought in three transfers to compete for the spot -- Chris Davis (El Camino CC), Brandon Willingham (Coffeyville CC) and Keith Suggs (Toledo).

    A funny thing happened, though, when a roster veteran played so well that he was elevated to the first team, ahead of the three newcomers. Fourth-year junior Courtney Richmond begins pre-fall camp at the top of the depth chart at corner, and said he accomplished that feat by doing his homework.

    "I went in and watched film and got a better understanding of the defense," said the Memphis, Tenn. native, who has played in 20 games during his Saluki career but made only two starts. "I also worked outside of practice with (former player) Marty Rodgers on my footwork and hand placement. Those things helped me get into position to make plays and get myself noticed."

    Richmond must battle every day to hold on to his starting spot, as Davis, Willingham, Suggs and freshman Jory Cunningham have all flashed ability at a position that appears to have gone from a team weakness to a strength.

    "Everybody is out there competing and nobody feels they have the number one spot given to them," Richmond explained. "The depth chart isn't set with the corners. Sometimes, Terrell (Wilson) and I are with the twos or the threes. Everyone's getting reps."

     

     





    "Everybody is out there competing and nobody feels they have the number one spot given to them. The depth chart isn't set with the corners."
    Courtney Richmond


    The Salukis need top-notch cover men because their blitzing defense often leaves the secondary in single coverage.

    "We bring a lot of pressure and most times play zone behind it," said the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Richmond, who has been timed in the low 4.5s in the 40-yard dash. "With the speed and talent we have this year, we want to play more man coverage and it's something I'm really looking forward to."

    In high school, Richmond was a hot prospect at Kirby High School in Memphis. During his junior year, Alabama head coach Nick Saban came to watch him play in-person. Interest from BCS schools tapered off during his senior year, though.

    "I don't know why (my recruitment) slowed down my senior year," he said. "I ask myself that question sometimes. I would like to know."





    "I grew up in east Memphis, and I think it's a cool place. I think it's based upon how you are raised. My parents raised me the right way, so I made the right decisions growing up. It's what you make of it."
    Courtney Richmond


    He acknowledged there's a bit of a stereotype about Memphis athletes. The city is considered a hotbed for basketball talent, but not so much for other sports. Some coaches get scared away by the city's relatively low graduation rate.

    "I grew up in east Memphis, and I think it's a cool place," he said. "I think it's based upon how you are raised. My parents raised me the right way, so I made the right decisions growing up. It's what you make of it."

    A recreation major, Richmond was a member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Academic team a year ago and plans to go to graduate school and study sports management during his senior year.

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    The weather was downright chilly at the start of practice with temperatures in the mid-50s and a cool breeze blowing. High temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-70s the rest of the week. This is the coolest August in southern Illinois in memory.

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    QB Kory Faulkner resumed practicing today and he had his best day of camp so far. He looked especially sharp during one sequence when he completed six-straight passes. First, he rifled a bomb to LaSteven McKinney for a touchdown, and followed that pass up by hitting TE MyCole Pruitt on a skinny post and a WR John Lantz on a 10-yard out. He went back to Pruitt on a nicely thrown wheel route, then found WR Josh Sullivan short, before delivering a deep strike again to McKinney. Perhaps his most impressive play, though, was checking to a run play in which RB Mika'il McCall picked up big yardage.

    *******************************

    The team scrimmaged full-contact with players tackled all the way to the ground. The Salukis worked on red zone and goal line situations, with some spirited combat in the trenches. Coach Lennon called G Cody Pollock over to the defense to play nose tackle. In the only pass play at the goal line, Faulkner threw a TD pass to FB Rik Hicks.

    *******************************

    After practice, Lennon asked the freshmen to stand up in front of the team as a group and sing the school fight song. They started nicely, fumbled the words in the middle, but finished strong. Carl Mauck would have been proud.

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