Colts Center Richard Used to Battling Through Adversity
INDIANAPOLIS - The circumstances won't be new to Jamey Richard.
Richard, an offensive guard from the University at Buffalo who the Colts made their seventh-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, won't be one of the most well-known rookies trying to make the team's roster in the coming months. And he won't have played against the biggest of big-time competition.
But Richard said that's fine. He has overcome difficult circumstances before. He has succeeded where many believed he wouldn't.
Richard said that always has been his way, and he said it can be again.
Even in the NFL.
"I just think I have the ability to battle through adversity and I always have," Richard recently in an interview for this story, the last of a nine-part series of stories on the Colts' 2008 NFL Draft class.
"People doubted me my whole life, and maybe that's fueled me to push harder. I'm the type of person who takes a lot of pride in everything I do. If you tell me I can't do something, I'm putting all the effort in the world into proving you wrong."
Not that anyone around the Colts is telling Richard he won't make it. Far from it.
Richard (6-feet-5, 304 pounds) started three seasons for the Bulls. He was an honorable mention All-America selection by Pro Football Weekly, becoming the first Buffalo player to earn national honors since the program moved to the Division I-A level in 1999.
He was invited the NFL Scouting Combine, where his vertical leap of 26.5 ranked him eighth among offensive linemen.
Colts President Bill Polian said the team targeted him before the draft, and ranked him highly.
"We said, 'If we can go into the draft with these three fellows (second-round selection Mike Pollak and sixth-round selection Steven Justice) we feel very happy about getting our offensive line back to where it belongs in terms of depth and quality of young players we have,' " Polian said after making Richard the 29th selection of the seventh round, the 236th selection overall.
And although Buffalo, a member of the Mid-American Conference, isn't as high-profile as a school from a Bowl Championship Series conference, Richard said he played against a solid level of collegiate competition.
"We are (Division) I-A," he said. "We play good teams in the MAC. Our out-of-conference schedule is tough. I've played a lot of good opponents and I feel I am ready to move on."
When Richard signed with Buffalo, he became the second player from his high school – Weston (Conn.) High School – to play at a Division I-A school. Late last month, he became the school's first player selected into the NFL.
"I went there with the intent of turning that program around," Richard said of a Buffalo team that went 5-29 from 2004-2006 before finishing 5-7 this past season (5-3 in the MAC) under second-year head coach Turner Gill.
"The program stalled for a few years. I kind of wondered if we'd ever get there. When Coach Gill came in, he changed the atmosphere of the program and turned it around. It was a great thing."
Richard, like most Colts offensive linemen, was selected in part because of his versatility. He played center at Buffalo, is listed as a guard on the Colts' roster, and at least one draft publication said he would play tackle in the NFL.
At the Colts' recent rookie camp, he worked at several positions on the line.
"Anything that's asked of me, I will learn to do," Richard said. "I'll do anything to win."
With the Colts, Richard joined a team with a history of developing late-drafted offensive linemen into starters under offensive line coach Howard Mudd. The team in the last 10 years often has developed second-day selections (tackle Ryan Diem, guard Jake Scott and guard Rick DeMulling), waiver-wire acquisitions (guard Ryan Lilja) and free agents (Saturday) into solid starters and contributors along the line.
Now, he said, the process will begin of seeing whether he is the next to join the group.
"I wasn't really aware of that," Richard said. "You can't really go on history. Every guy is his own man. He has to make it on his own. You can't rely on statistics or anything like that. Some people might be comforted by the numbers, I guess, but when it comes down to it, each guy to make it for himself.
"I'm looking forward to getting the pads back on. This has been a long process of trying to find a team. I'm glad that's over. I'm happy to be drafted and come to Indianapolis and take care of business. I don't know much about what the next two months are going to hold.
"I'm just coming into it with excitement and readiness to work. I'm just happy to be there."