Jordan Richards is starting to warm up.
He’s gone from bit player to a defensive mainstay in weeks for the New England Patriots. The rookie safety out of Folsom High School and Stanford played 30 of 57 snaps in Sunday’s 51-17 rout of Jacksonville, soaking up the game at every turn.
Richards doesn’t doze off in team meetings; he’s in the front row, all ears.
“In my short time here, I guess I’ve learned that it’s the stuff that happens pre-snap,” Richards told the Boston Globe this week. “You’re calm, you get your calls out, you identify the formation early, it allows you to play fast, as opposed to when you line up late, you’re getting calls out last minute, you don’t know if people heard you. … That’s how you end up playing slow and timid, and you don’t end up playing well.”
New England (3-0) has this week off before playing in Dallas on Oct. 11, a game his parents, Terrence and Sharon, plan to attend. They last watched him play when he was at Stanford, where the three-year starter anchored the secondary.
Terrence Richards, a longtime Folsom assistant coach who mentored his son for years, was born and raised in the New England area, played on the defensive line at Tufts and earned a minicamp tryout with the Patriots. The die-hard Patriots fan insists his son has become the better athlete.
“I’m trying to stay here a little longer than he did,” Jordan Richards told the Globe.
Richards always has been cerebral in his preparation and approach to the game, yet he also is fast and physical enough to knock down ballcarriers. He was an honors student at Folsom and Stanford, and one of the teams’ strongest and most versatile athletes.
I’m trying to stay here a little longer than he did.
Patriots rookie safety Jordan Richards, on his father
“Coach (Bill Belichick) mentioned today, taking it from the class to the grass,” Richards told the Globe. “Whether it’s film, whether it’s calculus, chemistry, you have to be able to take what you learn from your teacher/instructor/coach, whoever it may be, and apply it when it’s your turn to do so, whether that’s on a test or on a field. The field, the game, is my test.”
Festive Festus – Warriors backup center Festus Ezeli, who attended Jesuit but didn’t become serious about basketball until playing AAU ball while attending Yuba College, had a whirlwind summer.
It started with the Warriors’ NBA championship parade, with Yuba College coach Doug Cornelius as his guest. Then Ezeli represented his native Nigeria in the African Games in Johannesburg, where he met his basketball idol, Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon.
“Hakeem has the same story I did, coming from Nigeria, not having a basketball background,” Ezeli told reporters Monday during the Warriors’ media day.
Ezeli also paraded the NBA championship trophy at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., where he played four seasons.
Hakeem has the same story I did, coming from Nigeria, not having a basketball background.
Warriors backup center Festus Ezeli, on Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon
“People were just proud, people who had seen me through what I call the dark days, when I started learning to play,” Ezeli said.
Remembering Flood – Jim Flood, who won NCAA boxing championships for Sacramento State in the 1950s, died Monday after an extended illness. He was 80.
Flood, who won titles at 156 pounds in 1957 and 165 pounds in 1958, and Terry Smith were cornerstones of the nationally ranked Hornets before embarking on brief pro careers.
Prior to the NCAA dropping boxing in 1961 because of safety concerns, Sac State, under coach Hank Elespuru, hosted the national championships. Sports Illustrated noted that Flood was credited with participating in the greatest bout in NCAA history, a loss to Washington State’s Jesse Klinkenberg in the 1959 NCAA semifinals at 165 pounds.
After boxing, Flood worked for nearly 30 years as an instructor and athletic director for the California Youth Authority.