The trick during spring practice, coach Mike London said, is to expand Richardson's repertoire for 2012. Not at the expense of backfield mates Perry Jones and Kevin Parks, but to make the Cavaliers less predictable when he's on the field.
"Clifton has done a nice job … learning the playbook," London said Wednesday. "You put him in as a freshman, he had specific plays called for him. Clifton has done a better job understanding even the pass protections and blitz pick-ups. So when things happen on the field, he can go in there and run a power play and do a good job, but he can stay in the game now because he knows the protections."
At 6-feet, 215 pounds, Richardson is 4 inches taller and 20-30 pounds heavier than Jones and Parks, both 5-8. But while Jones (48 receptions) and Parks (11) were effective receivers out of the backfield last season, Richardson caught one pass, that for a 6-yard touchdown against North Carolina State.
"Clifton is kind of a prototypical big back," London said. "But he can also run, he can pass protect and he can catch. It's another dimension with him."
Richardson appeared in all 13 games last season, rushing for 374 yards and two touchdowns on 72 carries. He was effective not only between the tackles but also on occasional toss sweeps. His 5.1-yards-per-carry average was a tick better than Jones' 5.0 and Parks' 4.7, albeit on far fewer attempts.
Unlike Jones and Parks, Richardson did not have any gains of 25-plus yards, but he was tackled behind the line of scrimmage for losses totaling only 8 yards. He had season-highs of 11 carries and 70 yards against Idaho and ran for touchdowns against
Richardson, whom London said is performing academically as well, returns to his Newport News roots Friday when Virginia conducts a 7 p.m., spring practice at
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