UT's Tiny Richardson talks Clowney, guarantees win over Vandy

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 9:10pm

HOOVER, Ala. — Through no fault of his own, Antonio "Tiny" Richardson was cast as something of a villain at SEC Media Days for merely daring to hold the majestic Jadeveon Clowney. He even had the gall to admit it.

“Stay inside. That’s how you don’t get caught, that’s how good linemen work,” the Tennessee junior and former Pearl-Cohn High School standout said with a smile.

More than 1,200 reporters, 14 coaches and 42 student athletes are bouncing around a hotel ballroom for three days, with everyone involved trapped in a vortex of Johnny Manziel and Clowney. Richardson was no exception, as the South Carolina defensive end called him a day earlier as a particularly worthy opponent, but also someone who can get away with a hold.

Just like that Richardson became part of the second biggest tent at this circus. He sharply deferred multiple questions about Manziel (“I’m here to talk about my team and my state”), but relished the chance to stand as the sudden foil to a man who will almost assuredly be the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

Still, Richardson is considered the losing combatant, at least until a rematch — after holding Clowney in check for most of their 2012 meeting, the defensive end bulled past Richardson to cause a Tyler Bray fumble in a 38-35 South Carolina win. Richardson is emphatic about the play’s importance in creating his motivation.

“I’m not just saying this because I’m here in front of you guys. I watch that film at least once a week for motivation,” Richardson said.

Despite technically being a junior, new head coach Butch Jones has thrown a certain senior-level responsibility at the feet of Tiny and the Volunteer offensive line. They aren’t the flashiest set of role models, Richardson admits, but on an offense with an unknown starting quarterback, an iffy committee of running backs and a no-name receiving corps, Richardson and company find themselves in the spotlight by default.

“Obviously to have a returning offensive line that we have is very comforting,” Jones said during his session with print reporters.

“They have a lot of expectations going into this season, rightfully so. They have to obviously continue to develop on their pad level of coming off, playing with a greater sense of physicality. But they've done a great job and they've been great ambassadors for our football program.”

“I can tell I’ve had an affect on some of the younger guys,” Richardson said. “The thing about me is, I’m not the type of guy that’s always hollering in their ear though. Being a leader is about sometimes loving on guys. It’s about leading in different ways, learning about your teammates.”

Jones started his session bragging on the new Volunteer conditioning program and specifically 260 pounds of cumulative fat his roster has lost. A good hunk of that has come on the offensive line, where Richardson, senior Ja’Waun James and others have had to trim down significantly to keep pace in Jones’ new up-tempo spread attack.

“At first it seemed like it was almost impossible to get to the line as fast as Coach Jones wanted. But it’s just about getting up, getting to the ball and checking the sideline as soon as possible. I would say it’s harder for us because we’re bigger and carry more weight.”

Richardson’s Nashville roots afford him an added level of training in the offseason, specifically with former Titans still in the area. That includes former offensive lineman Brad Hopkins, currently a local sports talk personality.

“I call Brad Hopkins B-Hop, he’s like a big brother to me. I’ve sat down and watched a lot of film with him. He’s been a big brother figure for me, and it’s great to watch what he did well in his prime.”

Richardson also commended the hometown Vanderbilt Commodores for their recent success, which included a 41-18 blowout win over UT in Nashville last November.

“They’re on the come-up right now, but the thing is, we’re Tennessee and us losing to Vanderbilt, that happens every so often but that’s not happening again. I’m promising.”

So Nashville’s still a University of Tennessee town despite the ongoing “VanderBUILD” effort?

“Oh, the whole state of Tennessee is. It’s a Tennessee state,” Richardson said.


14 Comments on this post:

By: joe41 on 7/18/13 at 6:54

Antonio, I will be cheering against you every time you take a breath buddy.

By: JeffF on 7/18/13 at 7:17

It is not like he was stretching the limits of logic with the idea of Tennessee beating Vanderbilt. It has happened every year of my like except four outliers. It will be nice seeing our Tennessee team beat up on the imported thugs on West End.

By: wiseguy1 on 7/18/13 at 7:28

JeffF is looking in the rear view mirror for the UT glory days and dominace. Those glory days are in the past. UT may win Vanderbilt game, but it isn't automatic anymore.

By: PKVol on 7/18/13 at 7:37

This year may be Vandy's last year for a while to take down the Vols, but last year was more likely the last year for that to happen.

By: courier37027 on 7/18/13 at 8:43

Last year Vanderbilt was clearly the better team. Tennessee also rolled over and played dead. I did not have a problem with Black and Gold's lopsided victory, given Vanderbilt's decades of futility against Big Orange.

By: wiseguy1 on 7/18/13 at 9:10

Bookmark these posts as I'm sure we will be looking for lots 'o smack talk from Knoxville faithful in the months/weeks leading up to Nov 23.

Somebody will be asking for gravy to go with the crow.

I'm thinking UT's healing is going to take more than the summer 2013. Be sure to keep the ether can handy for a quick re-start when the Big Orange Machine sputters.

By: rldavenport@com... on 7/18/13 at 9:29

We'll be ready for the Orangenecks in November.

By: Specter47 on 7/18/13 at 10:28

This proud Orangeneck is one of thousands in Nashville alone. Guaranteed that there are more Tennessee fans in Nashville than Vanderbilt fans. When Tennessee sputters, it's just for a couple of seasons. When the Commode Doors sputter, it's for decades at a time. Proud to be a Vol in Nashville!!

By: joe41 on 7/18/13 at 11:53

This is one proud Commodore living in the Knoxville area. There are a number of us here who cheer for the Dores. We will see who wins this year. I predict a close game.


By: Vandyfan8896 on 7/18/13 at 3:34

Hey UT fans I would not count my chickens before they hatch. Vanderbilt kicked your butt last season, and will do so again this year. You might as well get used to another losing season, after Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Oregon, and Vanderbilt kicks your butt. A new coach is not going to help of course. I know you will get wins over little schools, but the big boys will kick your butt, even in Knoxville. LOSERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: wiseguy1 on 7/18/13 at 10:01

Hey Specter ... One has to admit there was allot of orange in the stadium last year in the first half. Not so much in the second half though.

By: JeffF on 7/19/13 at 7:30

I hope they are selling ankle tape in the VU bookstore because the sudden appearance of "hardcore" fans is going to make it awkward when VU has to keep throwing out the thugs.

By: Blip on 7/19/13 at 10:25

Got to love college football. Hope this becomes a true rivalry. Even 1 out of every 5 times Vanderbilt wins, it's good for the whole state. ESPN will be all over it.

By: Badbob on 7/21/13 at 5:28

Thanks for the laughs this morning Vandyfan8896!

Imagine a Vandy fan calling someone else "losers" simply because Vandy managed to put together their first 2 winning season since 1982,