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NFL Combine Notebook: 2024 draft prospects explain how playing with, against Anthony Richardson made them better players

Before being selected No. 4 overall by the Colts in 2023, Richardson accounted for 26 total touchdowns over his final season at Florida. 


While Georgia tight end Brock Bowers was carving up Florida for 134 yards and a touchdown on five catches on a Saturday afternoon in 2022, he couldn't help but notice the super-talented quarterback on the opposing sideline: Anthony Richardson. 

"I just remember him being just a freak athlete," Bowers recalled this week at the NFL Combine. "Big dude. Fast. He was tough to bring down for our defense. He's a baller."

For the guys actually tasked with tackling Richardson during his college days, they could confirm – yeah, bringing him down was an incredibly challenging task. But for Florida State linebacker Tatum Bethune and Missouri linebacker Ty'Ron Hopper, the challenge of defending Richardson made them better players – and better prospects as they go through the exhaustive pre-draft process this year. 

"He was the first guy I ever played with that skillset," Bethune said. "Him being able to sling it and run it, and he was kind of heavy too. He just had the whole package, and being able to tackle him, it just helped me out.

"... When we played him he was probably 250 (pounds). Not trying to joke around – it took us a while to get him on the ground on some plays."

Hopper began his college career at Florida, where he practiced against Richardson, before transferring to Mizzou before the 2022 season. 

"He's big, strong, fast, athletic," Hopper said. "He's a really great player. I feel like he was able to make me better as a linebacker just by playing a quarterback so big, fast and strong. You don't really see that in quarterbacks a lot.

"... He's a really great person. He's one of the most athletic guys I know – for his size, to have all that speed and explosion and things like that."

Wide receiver Ricky Pearsall transferred from Arizona State to Florida ahead of the 2022 season, but only had a few weeks to get up to speed with Richardson before the start of the season. He said Richardson's personality and athleticism made the transition as smooth as possible, and Pearsall went on to lead Florida in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns that season. 

"Just coming in and having to live up to that talent level – obviously he's a generational level of talent," Pearsall said. "Going in there and getting with him, getting trust because I came in late in the summer. It was an honor playing with him too as well, he's one of my good buddies. He's been hitting me up throughout this week and wishing me luck, so I appreciate that."

"... He's a really good dude. He's a really good friend. He's the same person you see on the camera and off the camera. I think that's really important."

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