For Michael Richardson and Chansi Stuckey, the road to the NFL hasn't been easy.
Richardson, a former wing back at Warner Robins...drafted Sunday in the later rounds by New England...Richardson had success on the field and off at Notre Dame. As a cornerback, he had 115 tackles - 85 solo - in his four-year college career...That success did not surprise his former Demon coach, Richard Fendley.
"He was highly recruited by the academic schools but not local schools like Georgia and Georgia Tech," Fendley said. "He's a good all-around player."
At Warner Robins, Richardson was used as mostly a wing back blocking for Willie Reid, who was drafted last year by Pittsburgh. Richardson rushed for a career 1,866 yards and scored 23 touchdowns. He was a standout in track and graduated with a 3.9 GPA.
Willingham moved Richardson to the cornerback position,a spot the Notre Dame coach desperately needed to fill. It stuck as Richardson played that position ever year.
"Notre Dame's scheme fit into Mike's skills," Fendley said. "They played a lot of man with the defensive backs chasing receivers all over the place. I know the defensive backs got blamed for a lot of the defense's problems this season but they weren't getting any pressure up front."
...Willingham was fired and New England offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was brought on...It took a while for Richardson to get adjusted to his new coach's style but his efforts obviously got the attention of NFL scouts.
"I know that Charlie came from the same organization," Richardson said in a conference call Sunday. "I really enjoyed my time here with Coach Weis."
Quarterback Matt Gutierrez is headed to New England...
Gutierrez will join Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, who also played college football at Michigan. Currently Matt Cassel backs up Brady with the Patriots, but they have no other quarterbacks on the roster. During his one season with Idaho State, the 6-foo-4, 231-pound Gutierrez threw for 2,237 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Patriots mini-camp starts May 11...
So if this Great Receiver Experiment doesn't work out -- if Moss flashes a moon in Miami or chop-blocks another crossing guard with his car -- the Pats will have two No. 1s with which to address the problem. This is what's known as a Plan B, and it's why New England is where it is ... and other clubs are where they are. We won't mention any names.
You can argue about which NFL team came away with the best draft, but there's no question who had the best offseason. The New England Patriots lapped the field.
The Patriots made two key free-agent additions to their defense: Pro Bowl linebacker Adalius Thomas, signed from the Ravens, and cornerback Tory James.
In the draft they brought in a couple of Miami Hurricane defenders with an attitude: safety Brandon Meriweather and tackle Kareem Brown. Linebacker Oscar Lua from Southern Cal might have been a seventh-round steal.
Plus, by wheeling and dealing, the Patriots also wound up with an extra first-round pick for 2008.
Clint Oldenburg of Gillette got a call from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick last weekend letting him know he was about to be drafted. From there, it played out on TV.Oldenburg is a 6-foot-5, 296-pound offensive tackle who played at Campbell County High School and Colorado State.Oldenburg says he was so happy to get the call, and then was just trying to see his name on T-V.Oldenburg was the first of two Wyoming natives picked in the NFL's weekend draft. Oldenburg went in the fifth round, when the Patriots took him with the 171st pick.
Lua The (NFL) Linebacker: Oscar Lua deserves a mention here as well. After backing up a Trojan star for his senior year, the New England Patriots thought they might have the same success with him that they enjoyed with Matt Cassel. Lua’s knees will always be a concern, but he has rehabbed nicely this offseason and was in very good shape for his workouts. He may not be the next Teddy Bruschi for the Patriots, but he should fit in very nicely with the mindset of that organization and could see some playing time down the road.
Dallas Sartz and Oscar Lua will no doubt have to earn some time on special teams before getting a shot on defense, but both players have extensive experience there from their time at USC and should have no trouble adjusting accordingly.
I was initially surprised that Brandon Meriweather was the first University of Miami player picked over the weekend in the NFL Draft, but I shouldn’t have been.
Meriweather certainly had the best career of the three Hurricanes...that were picked in the first round.
Even last season when Meriweather was slowed by various issues and nagging injuries, he turned in a solid season. Don’t forget that Meriweather virtually shut down Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson...
Seems to me that cornerback will be Meriweather’s position in the pros, although Boston-area writers marked Meriweather as the heir-apparent to hard-hitting veteran Rodney Harrison at safety.
But at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, I don’t believe Meriweather will be able to dish out that kind of punishment. Yes, Meriweather is a tough guy and a hard hitter, but he took a beating in college...
One hopes that Meriweather — as he insists — has learned his lesson. I dealt with Meriweather for four years and never thought of him as a troublemaker.
The Patriots drafted Meriweather and defensive tackle Kareem Brown (4th round), marking the first time in team history that New England used its first two picks to select players from the same school. That’s no surprise considering Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick spends more time on UM’s campus than Donna Shalala.