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January 5, 2011MORE ARMY BOWL: Tuesday East stars | Tuesday West stars | Complete coverage
SAN ANTONIO -- Criticism would have bothered Antonio Richardson a couple years ago, but now the four-star offensive tackle is more focused on proving he's one of the nation's top prospects and not fretting over what others say about him.
Questions have circulated about Richardson, who's been to three high schools in four years and missed his entire sophomore season and two regular-season games as a senior because of transfer rules.
The move from Mount Pleasant as a freshman to Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth for his sophomore, junior and part of his senior years and then finally to Pearl-Cohn in Nashville has raised some inquiries, but Richardson said the negative rumors about him aren't true and he's tired of worrying what others think about him.
He said the move from Mount Pleasant to Ensworth mainly was for academic reasons, and the move to Pearl-Cohn also was for academics.
Richardson, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound recruit, said he feels he did what was best for him and his academic and athletic situations. He's content with how things played out.
"It's helped me a lot mentally," Richardson said. "People don't know me personally, but I'm a guy who jokes around and plays around, but mentally I'm a strong dude. I'm not going to let anything break me down. At first it was kind of tough, but I was doing what I needed to do.
"I didn't get to finish out the season, and some critics were after me. That's why I'm happy to play in this game, so I can go against some of the best players in the country and prove the type of player I am. The jury is still out with me for some people. I want to prove it to everyone else, so that's what I'm looking forward to."
According to Richardson, there was some serious criticism that he heard questioning his athletic talent to his academic standing to what kind of competitor he would be on the college level.
A lot of that was easily dismissed, though, because Richardson realized a lot of the negativity was coming from those who either didn't know him or his situation.
The four-star is more concerned about how he plays in this game, his recruitment and his future, which is still undecided. He could wait until National Signing Day or even afterward to make his commitment.
"People said I couldn't make it academically, that I'm not that good anyway," Richardson said.
"There was a whole bunch of negative stuff, but there was a lot of positive stuff, too. I heard I was one of the best guys in the country and that I'm a good kid, that I work hard and that people were speaking on things they didn't know much about. I heard a lot of negative, but also a lot of positive.
"The thing is, two years ago that would have been in my mind, that people were talking about me. Now I know those people are just critics and they don't know the game. I took everything as a positive, and I want to show what kind of player I am, who I am and just represent."
Soon after the Army game, he'll take back-to-back visits to LSU and Miami, and other visits will be scheduled as well. Rivals.com rates Richardson No. 9 at offensive tackle, No. 74 in the 2011 class and first in the Tennessee state rankings.
Recruiting has taken a backseat this week as Richardson, one of only two four-star prospects in Tennessee as rated by Rivals.com, tries to prove himself as one of the nation's best offensive tackles. Not to prove his critics wrong. He's doing it for his own satisfaction. "I'm here to have fun, but I want to prove something," Richardson said. "On game day, I'll be so zoned in. So many people will be watching, and I want to prove myself."
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