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How Ramon Richards Makes OSU’s Offense Better



Quarterback Mason Rudolph and receiver James Washington agreed on one thing at Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday: Ramon Richards is the one player on the Oklahoma State defense that makes the future NFL Draft picks better, most often.

Richards was signed to OSU as an athlete in the 2014 recruiting class. He came out of Brackenridge High School in San Antonio, Texas, having played four years as a defensive back and dual-threat quarterback. He played cornerback, safety and came in for nickel packages, which he has mentioned helped him in the pocket.

Now as a senior OSU safety, he is clearly reapplying those lessons he learned about four years ago.

“He does a lot pre-snap,” Rudolph said. “I remember in a meeting, him coming to me and saying, ‘Hey, what do you see out there when I’m moving around and I’m giving you keys pre-snap?'”

Richards has eight interceptions in three seasons, which is impressive enough until you hear about the yardage he gained after those eight snags. Richards averages 19.8 yards per interception return for a total of 158 yards, more than one and a half football fields. And he brought 25 percent of those picks back for touchdowns.

He was thrown into a starting role as a freshman after Kevin Peterson was injured his senior season in 2014. Washington was also getting serious play time as a freshman starting five games, so he has been around the block and back with Richards.

“When he was playing corner, we would go at it all the time,” Washington said.

Washington listed off two other players — Peterson and Ashton Lampkin — who have played the same role Richards fills now, which places some implied emphasis on the tenacity of the OSU cornerbacks during practice.

“All three of those guys have made me who I am,” Washington said.

When he said that at Big 12 Media Days, I was surprised. A Biletnikoff Award finalist with 30 starts, almost 3,000 yards, more than 150 catches and 26 touchdowns in three seasons, gave “who I am” type of credit to three players who haven’t recorded a single stat in the NFL.

“KP was always on me, just throwing me out of bounds, wouldn’t let me off the line,” Washington said. “It’d just make you mad. ‘I gotta get him. I gotta get him. I want one more. I want one more.’

“I would say he’s really a big factor to my success.”

Rudolph’s praise was almost equally as surprising but genuinely placed.

“An unbelievable change-of-direction guy,” he said. “He’s doing some different things as far as moving and trying to deceive me. Lately, I don’t know what he’s doing. He tries to cheat because he knows our schemes and how I like to throw the deep ball. He tries to rob some things.”

That might sound like Richards is getting little out of practice and Rudolph is just getting frustrated, but it forces Rudolph to learn and adjust. It’s like playing against an extra defender when they know what’s coming, so when it’s 11-on-11, it might seem like 11-on-10.

In watching OSU football every year Richards has been a part of the program, one word resurfaces: Scrappy. He might be annoying to play against on the field, willing to do anything to get an edge, but if two potential first-round picks have that level of respect for him, he must have a more significant impact on the team overall than cheating on a play after Rudolph takes a snap in practice.

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