SDSU coaches plan to play freshman WR Kyre Richardson in 2017

Oct 17, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; San Diego State Aztecs head coach Rocky Long calls out to his players during the second quarter against the San Jose State Spartans at Spartan Stadium.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Former Tulsa Union High School star Kyre Richardson, one of three receivers to sign with San Diego State this offseason, will work to refine his craft if asked to redshirt in 2017.

SDSU’s coaches, however, plan to dress him in a jersey.

“The coaches are planning on playing me next year,” Richardson said. “But if they redshirt me, I won’t be upset. I’ll just look at it as a chance to grow as a player and really learn the playbook and how the offense works.”

Richardson, a two-star recruit by Rivals, helped lead his high school football team to a 20-5 record over the last two years. He declined offers from four other schools, including North Texas and the University of Nevada, to join the Aztecs, a decision he felt coming after his first step on the Mesa.

“Right when I got on campus, it just felt like I was supposed to be there,” Richardson said. “It’s a growing community and a growing team, and I feel like I can grow as a person and as a player there.

“All of their coaches took care of me and made me feel like I was one of their own.”

As previously mentioned, Richardson will continue SDSU’s trend of growth on the gridiron regardless of his playing status in 2017, but the coaches should carry out their plans of playing him as a freshman, especially given the lack of production from the Aztecs’ current receiving corps.

SDSU’s leading receiver, junior Mikah Holder, accounted for just 17.4 percent of the team’s receptions, bringing in just 27 passes for 581 yards and five touchdowns. He was one of just three receivers to have 11 or more receptions in 2016.

To add perspective, the Aztecs’ top running backs Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny and junior tight end David Wells accounted for 42.5 percent of the team’s receptions.

Without a dominant, reliable target outside the hashes, SDSU’s passing attack will continue to be limited to shallow passes to tight ends and running backs.

Richardson plans to change that.

“I want to put up numbers, and I want to end up going to the league from San Diego State,” Richardson said. “I want to set some records.”

Yes, those are lofty goals for a freshman receiver who has yet to see the field at SDSU, let alone participate in an offense geared to run the football. However, Richardson expects to also leave a positive impact beyond his role as a receiver and into the Aztecs’ rushing attack.

“I’ve always been a great blocker for my running back,” Richardson said. “I had one of the best running backs in the country at my high school, so I’m used to blocking for great running backs.”

If Richardson can prove to be a core special teamer and a dominant run blocker, SDSU’s coaches will have no choice but to award him significant playing time in 2017. His production in the passing game will undoubtedly follow suit.

At 6-foot-3 inches, 190 pounds, Richardson possesses a lengthy frame for the wide receiver position, allowing him to attack the ball at its highest point with relative ease and sky over defenders. He should already have the upper hand in press coverage and in the red zone, but he believes his speed will serve as his biggest strength.

“Usually, wide receivers my size are not as fast as I am,” Richardson said. “I run a 4.40 [40-yard dash], so usually the corners can’t keep up with me and don’t expect me to be that fast. I usually just blow right past them.”

If Richardson’s spoken strengths translate into significant production and playing time, then some SDSU records could very well be within reach.