BEREA, Ohio — For
Richardson tried to carve his own path while playing running back at Escambia High School in Pensacola, Fla., which produced all-time
But every time people heard that Richardson was from Pensacola, he said, their response was, "Oh, you got Emmitt Smith from there."
"You're playing at Emmitt Smith's high school, there's tremendous incentive to do the same thing, if not better," said Escambia track coach Derrick Boyd, Richardson's mentor.
"Being from the same hometown and from the same school, you have no choice," Richardson said of the comparisons.
Because of that, Smith stayed in the background until Richardson became a star at Alabama. But when it became apparent Richardson would be a first-round draft choice just like Smith, the 17th overall pick by the
"He let Trent grow up on his own and not be a major influence or a distraction," Boyd said of Smith. "Now, Emmitt is providing a little bit more guidance."
The two got together at the
"Our relationship is pretty strong," said Richardson, who was selected third overall by the
Florida's 5A player of the year as a senior, Richardson shattered some of Smith's high school marks. Now Smith provides more goals for Richardson, like his NFL records for rushing yards (18,355) and rushing touchdowns (164).
"He is always telling me, 'Just be you and just stay humble. Don't worry about all of the bad and all of the clutter. Don't let that get into your head,'" Richardson said of Smith. "He always told me, 'I am the leading rusher and records are meant to be broken, so come get me.'"
While the Browns weren't putting those lofty expectations on Richardson, team President Mike Holmgren hopes Richardson can emulate the success of another Alabama product, running back
Drafted 19th overall, Alexander set a host of Seahawks records, including career rushing yards (9,429) and touchdowns (112), single-game rushing yards (266 against the
"I hope he does what Shaun did for us. That would be nice," Holmgren said. "But they are really quite different backs.
"I love Shaun. If I could adopt Shaun I would, but he wouldn't block anybody, nobody. He was one of the great runners I've ever seen. But Trent is an excellent pass receiver, not just a willing blocker but a very, very good blocker."
Holmgren said that will be a big advantage in Browns coach Pat Shurmur's offense.
"When Pat's calling the game, you don't have to be thinking, 'How do we protect him in the passing game?'" Holmgren said. "I have great affection for Shaun Alexander and what he did for Seattle and what he did for me. This young man, there is no reason he can't do the same for us."
Richardson makes no secret of his love of pass blocking, instilled at an early age.
"Pass blocking is fun for me because growing up I was always the shortest," said Richardson, who is 5-foot-101/2 and 224 pounds. "All of my brothers were bigger than me, so I had to do something to make sure they stopped beating up on me all of the time.