A prospective third-year contributor and an important veteran presence in the Arkansas secondary, Kevin Richardson won’t have a chance to excel for the Razorbacks this season.
The 6-foot junior defensive back tore a pectoral muscle during Arkansas’ 21-20 season-opening win over Louisiana Tech. Bret Bielema announced the injury at his press conference Monday. He’s expected to undergo surgery and begin a subsequent four-plus-month rehab process. The possibility of Richardson recouping this lost junior season remains, however.
“Just his demeanor, his attitude, he’s everything I want in this program,” Bielema said, via Matt Jones of the Arkanas Democrat-Gazette. “He knows the defensive package as well as any coach.”
While Richardson wasn’t tabbed to be a surefire starter, barring injuries or ineffectiveness, he resided as the team’s top nickel back and one of its more experienced cogs. He served as a key member of multiple Razorback special teams units as well.
The Jacksonville, Ark., native did start in five games for the Hogs last season and played on defense and special teams in 13 games as a freshman in 2014. He made 44 tackles, 22 solo, and intercepted a pass as a sophomore. Despite going down due to the chest malady, Richardson registered seven tackles in the Razorbacks’ narrow victory on Saturday, tying for the team high with Dre Greenlaw, Santos Ramirez and Deatrich Wise Jr.
Jared Collins and Henre’ Toliver remain the starting corners for the SEC program, and Ryan Pulley figures to see a boost in playing time as a result of this setback. Pulley is a sophomore from Fort Myers, Fla., who played in 10 of Arkansas’ 13 games last year, making one start.