Max Richardson established a dominant presence on the football field last season and secured a place alongside the outstanding Boston College linebackers in this century.
Richardson, a 6-0, 230-pound, redshirt junior weakside linebacker from Duluth, Georgia, led the ACC with 72 solo tackles, was third in total tackles (108) and 30th nationally with 14.5 tackles for a loss.
He had five games with 10 or more tackles and was voted All-ACC second team. Richardson thinks he can do better next season after learning the new system instituted by new head coach Jeff Hafley.
* The most important thing to my development last year was focusing on the details and all aspects of the game,” said Richardson. * That, with working hard to be bigger, stronger and faster. I had a great linebackers' coach (Bill Sheridan) who really taught me the mental aspects of the game and I was playing with a great bunch of linebackers. It was a great experience and I'm hoping to build on that next year.”
New linebackers coach Sean Duggan played the position at BC from 2011-2014 and came from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati — the same institution that produced All-ACC backers Luke Kuechly and Steven Daniels.
Through Duggan's initiative, Richardson has made a case study of Kuechly, that rare individual who competed at the highest levels of the NCAA and the NFL through intellect and brute force.
Kuechly played three seasons at BC, setting the ACC record for career tackles with 532. He was a two-time consensus first team All-American and exited the Heights in possession of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy.
The Carolina Panthers selected Kuechly with the ninth overall pick in 2012 and the relationship was mutually beneficial. Kuechly was the 2012 Rookie of the Year, 2013 Defensive Player of the Year, and a seven-time All-Pro.
Kuechly played eight years with Carolina that included an NFC title run in 2015. He retired after the 2019 season because of recurrent head injuries.
* I was able to watch some games when Luke was at Boston College,” said Richardson. * I saw the bowl game against Boise (State) and a couple of the conference games he played in.
* His style of play is run to the football and he really focused on the mental aspect of the game and anticipation, that's how you have to play linebacker. That is something coach Duggan talks about in regards to Kuechly and that is something we should all try to emulate. That's the mental aspect of the game because it's not all about brute strength and speed.
* Luke is one of the greatest to ever do it and I'm just proud to wear the same Boston College jersey he wore a few years ago.”
Richardson was making headway with Hafley, Duggan and defensive coordinator Tem Lukabu when the Eagles' spring season was shut down down after five sessions by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
* Those five days we only saw the tip of the iceberg of everything we are going to be doing this season,” said Richardson. * However, we were able to intro to the basics and intro to the fundamentals and what needs to happen from the coaches. It did not last very long but it did go well. It was very precise. They laid it all out for us with what they wanted us to know and we will be ready to go in the fall.”
The linebackers were the Eagles' most effective defensive unit last season and that's not about to change.
Redshirt junior MLB John Lamot started 11 games and finished second to Richardson with 74 tackles and 4.0 tackles for a loss. Redshirt freshman Joe Sparacio played in 12 games with eight starts and 43 tackles.
The group will be upgraded by the return of redshirt junior Isaiah McDuffie, a dynamic 6-2, 220-pound, SAM linebacker. McDuffie, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2018, missed the first nine games recovering from knee surgery. McDuffie was used sparingly in the final four games without compromising his medical redshirt.
* We call Isaiah the * bloodhound” because he's one of those guys that runs to the ball as good as anybody in the country,” said Richardson. * He's as physical as anybody in the country. He's going to have an exceptional year and we are all going to be cheering for him.”
Richardson returned to Georgia when BC shut down in March. He spends his days viewing Zoom classes online while practicing socially responsible ways to maintain his conditioning.
* It has been difficult because we don't have the ability to use the facilities,” said Richardson. * This is a time when you have to be creative and what I've been able to do is condition my body to be faster.
* Instead of lifting weight you have to lift gallon jugs and trying creative things to get a quality amount of work in.”