At an NFL rookie mini-camp you have draft picks hoping to make the starting lineup … undrafted free agents hoping to make the roster … and non-roster invitees hoping to get a chance to come back the next day.
That last category is the one Darryl Richardson falls into. The former Aztecs tight end is in camp with the Chargers and like most rookies on their first day he’s trying to figure out what the heck is going on out here.
“I’ve just got to get in the playbook because it’s a little difficult right now,” said Richardson after his first day in the NFL. “It’s kind of like the same offense we ran at San Diego State it’s just called differently with different terminology.”
The Aztecs ran a lot more than the Chargers do, but that might be a benefit in this case.
“I actually was known as a receiver at San Diego State. Now is just trying to put everything together and be a better blocker than I was before,” said Richardson.
Richardson looks the part. He’s 6’5” and 255 pounds with good hands. But it’s hard to look at his stats because he doesn’t have many.
Richardson only caught two passes in his 4-year Aztecs career, both of them for 21 yards, and only one of them for a touchdown. Yet when you watch him on the field his athletic ability and hands are obvious.
Still, his limited body of work means if he wants to extend his audition beyond this weekend he needs to do something special.
“I’ve gotta impress somebody to get back. That’s really all I know right now,” said Richardson.
To do that Darryl is trying to show off his athleticism and hope it whets the coaches’ appetite.
“Basically how I feel right now is I’m trying to go full speed, even if I don’t know what I’m doing,” said Richardson. “I’m just running fast and flying to the ball no matter what. Sometimes I might not know what’s going on right now, I’m just playing fast.”
If an NFL career is not in the cards it might not be the end of Richardson’s dream to be a professional athlete. He was a good enough high school baseball player to earn a private workout with the Texas Rangers and thought about playing outfield for the Aztecs.
“Yeah I did but Coach Long; he wasn’t really a big fan.”
Still, the thought of putting on a different kind of helmet has never really gone away.
“Oh yeah, that’s always been in the back of my mind. My mom and dad talk about that all the time, you know, don’t forget about baseball!”
Richardson hasn’t forgotten about it. He’d just like to put it off a while longer while playing in the NFL.