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Former Alabama WR says ‘consistency is key for Trent Richardson’ if he wants the NFL

Former Alabama running back Trent Richardson (No. 3) in the open field versus Auburn in 2011: Photo via Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.– In a world of fleeting images, the final good one Alabama fans remember of running back Trent Richardson was in 2011. At that time, the Pensacola, Fla., native stood on top of the world, as he flashed both a smile and a national championship.

Richardson recorded 96 yards rushing on 20 carries, including a 34-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Crimson Tide a 21-0 lead over Louisiana State University in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game. He would set an Alabama single-season school record with 1,679 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on 283 carries, en route to winning the Doak Walker Award, Southeastern Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-American.

Trent Richardson Tribute/Highlight Video (HD)

Since notching a 3,000-yard career in college, life in the National Football League has been unstable for the former Heisman Trophy finalist. After being selected third overall in the 2012 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns, Richardson been on five different teams while averaging a dismal 3.3 yards per carry.

Whether it’s issues with weight, self-confidence or financial management, the once weight room warrior at Alabama can’t catch a break in the pros. He’s currently a free agent, but numerous media outlets have already labeled Richardson as one of the biggest NFL Draft busts to date. Although it’s a long shot to see him get another chance, his former college teammate and trainer says the best is yet to come for the talented rusher.

“I’ve been working with Trent all summer,” Mike McCoy, co-founder of Warehouse Performance Institute said to yours truly on Monday. “He’s in good shape and he’s keeping his weight down.”

Accountability is the biggest difference between college and pro football.

In college, position coaches join the head coach in making sure all players hold up a standard of excellence both physically and mentally. The NFL, on the other hand, calls for the individual in question to motivate itself in keeping both its body and mind focused on the task at hand.

“You get paid for your value in the NFL,” McCoy said. “This is something that Ryan (Romano) and I always express to Trent. In the pros, it’s do you want to be the worker or the main man?”

No matter if he chooses to see it this way or not, Richardson was given the blueprint by Alabama football head coach Nick Saban on how to navigate through the NFL. Saban stayed on both he and McCoy as players and forced their teammates to hold each one accountable to a standard.

“Consistency is key,” McCoy stated. “Saban ran a tight ship and many teams in the professional game do the exact same. For Trent, he has to take advantage because this may be his last shot.”

McCoy and Romano’s brand of tough love, or ‘No BS’ as McCoy terms it has Richardson showing up for work on time. The trio have countless conversations on what Richardson wants to become in his career, but more importantly, what he wants to be overall as a person.

“He has to understand the NFL means Not For Long,” McCoy said. “Either you are going to be statistic or make a career out it. And even if you make a career out of it, having a life after football plays a role. We want him to focus on the next step and be a pillar in his community.”

Upon being asked about potential landing spots for Richardson, McCoy said a few teams have shown interest in the 25-year-old and he hopes that by this fall Richardson will be on a roster.

“He needs to be on a team that runs a tight ship and is used to winning,” McCoy said. “Trent loves to have fun, so he needs to be in an organization where there is a lot of team bonding.”

In discussing Richardson’s stops at Cleveland, Indianapolis and Oakland, McCoy reveals the reasons for disappointment was that all three teams were not on the same page.

“There is a difference with teams that are well run versus those that aren’t,” he said.

“Teams that are well run have a zero tolerance for BS. Everyone is one the same page. Everyone wants to win. I am not even a LeBron James fan, but you see how he’s bringing hope to the city of Cleveland. He wants to win and he’s not afraid to call out his teammates. Same with the Golden State Warriors. They play with an unselfish, but it’s the same result. They win.”

For Richardson to recapture his swagger and make a difference in the league, he must familiarize himself with the disciplined structure that he learned as an 18-year-old coming to Nick Saban.

“At Alabama, your were on time,” McCoy said.

“There was no excuse for being late or missing a practice. It’s a culture thing and when you don’t have that culture or if you lose it, then success does not last long. Honestly, Trent needs to go to either Seattle, Green Bay or even New England because those teams provide much structure.”

As he tries to redefine his passion for the game, Tide fans will continue to cheer on Richardson in hopes that he can finally be the face at running back in the NFL for years to come.

Stephen M. Smith is a managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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