Next running back up?

A little over five years ago, current Portland State senior Shaq Richard
was waiting.
A junior at Junipero Serra High School, Richard was a second-string running back, waiting for an opportunity to show his potential as an athlete. Growing up in a family that stressed hard work and patience, Richard knew his time would come; he just had to wait.
Finally, his time came.
Richard saw his teammate in front of him get suspended and recognized it as the opportunity he had been waiting for. Richard scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime, seizing the opportunity that he’d worked hard for.
“I’ve always been taught to be humble, and just keep working hard,” Richard said. “So to see an opportunity like that manifest, it was just such a great feeling.”
But even with people watching the televised game in which a second-string running back came in and made a difference, Richard didn’t get the recruiting love that some would argue he deserved. He waited and waited for a letter, a call or any kind of recruitment that would be fitting of a talented athlete coming out of Los Angeles.
“I never really got the looks that everybody else at my high school got,” Richard said. “It was around January [of my senior year] and I still hadn’t got any solid offers.”
But after waiting, PSU called wondering if he was still available, hoping that the athlete hadn’t signed with any other school. Richard hadn’t, and before they knew it the soon-to-be freshman was already in Portland, visiting the campus and making sure it was the right fit for him.
He missed an all-star game to visit PSU, but it was worth it. “I just fell in love with it,” Richard said. “Being from LA and the city, it was the perfect fit for me.”
The biggest difference between LA and Portland is the weather, but that was no problem for Richard, who has grown used to cloudy days and rain since he came to the Northwest. Five days after he graduated high school, Richard was already at PSU getting used to everything. He started working out with the team early, showing how dedicated he is.
“My parents always told me to work hard and do the right thing,” Richard said. “That’s what I do. I do what I do, do what I’m told. I’m not about stats, playing time or anything like that.”
That hard work paid off for Richard, who found himself playing as a true freshman. That year PSU had the TCU Horned Frogs on their out of conference schedule, a team coming off a Rose Bowl appearance the year before. Richard went out and ran for 90 yards against a tested college football team, which would have been over 100 yards had it not been
for penalties.
Ever since then Richard has continued to work hard, and now as a senior he finds himself as one of the key guys on PSU’s roster. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I expect to be the
go-to guy this year. The game changer, the guy that everyone wants the ball in my hands for third and fifteen, or third and short. I want to maximize my potential playing running back, receiver, returner, wherever the team needs me. I want to be the guy that helps get our team to the playoffs for the first time in a long time.”
PSU has never been the biggest sports school, and recognition as an athlete here is far different from other schools in Oregon. But that hasn’t bothered Richard. He came here to play football and get an education.
“We don’t get too much publicity, but all that doesn’t mean too much to me. I’m grateful that someone was interested in me, and I wanted to return the favor by working hard. It doesn’t really matter where you are, someone will find you.”
This will be Richard’s last year playing football for PSU, as he hopes to graduate next spring or summer. He’s majoring in communications, but his hopes post-graduation lie in professional football, whether that is in the United States or in Canada. As long as he has the opportunity, Richard will continue to work hard.