Jimmy Noonan remembers former South Carolina football player Quintin Richardson as a physical specimen, one so good longtime Columbia area coach Bill Kimrey had to stop a scrimmage to have a word about him.
Noonan was coaching Spring Valley High School. Kimrey coached Dutch Fork. The teams were scrimmaging, and at a point the staff agreed to pull their starters to send out the junior varsity players. So out came Richardson.
“He stopped the scrimmage, said, ‘I thought we were playing JV kids,’ ” said Noonan, now the coach at Wando. “I said, ‘Bill, that’s a freshman.’ ”
It’s been a long way from then to now for Richardson.
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He grew into a 6-foot-4, 265-pound offensive tackle, one of the top 100 players in the 2007 recruiting class. He stayed home, going to South Carolina, but never quite got on track, never quite hit the lofty hype that surrounded him.
But that didn’t deter him from keeping football in his life, even to this day.
“Since college I’ve tried to extend my career,” Richardson said. “That didn’t go as planned, but I picked up coaching. I started out, really just started with the youth and doing stuff like that throughout the East Coast, when I initially stopped playing.”
He lives in Denver these days. He has a day job doing contract work for the military. He’s operated youth camps with other former players, even dipped his toe in the world of college coaching.
After school he started training, trying to carve out professional opportunities. Through friends he met there, he started doing camps for kids, not the kind where high school kids work on the finer points of technique, but where younger kids learn the basics.
“I’m really just doing it with the young guys,” Richardson said, “kind of just giving them something to do per se in the summertime.
“It’s more letting loose than instruction with the little guys.”
A chance to play for an Indoor Football League team, the Colorado Ice, led him to Denver, and as that ended, he decided he liked it out there. He linked up with the likes of former South Carolina teammate Jason Barnes, who was leaving the Ice as he was arriving, former Tennessee linebacker Rico McCoy and UNC wide receiver Rashad Mason.
From those camps, he worked his way into middle school coaching, and then high school coaching. He spent last year as a volunteer on the college level, working as offensive line coach at Virginia University of Lynchburg.
Now he’s back in Denver. The volunteer coach life isn’t the most stable financially, so his military job brought him back. Now he’s looking for a new high school role.
He looks back at his college days with a mix of emotions.
“I fell short of what I wanted to do, obviously, because of injuries,” Richardson said. “Injuries kind of hurt me, especially that 2010 season. That summer going into 2010, I tore my pec.”
He had started five games at right tackle as a redshirt sophomore. A shoulder injury limited him that offseason, and then came the pectoral injury.
Before the 2010 season, he transferred to Hampton University but didn’t play there.
“I never kind of bounced back from that pectoral injury,” Richardson said. “It kind of stayed down with me for a minute. My overall experience and my overall career at South Carolina, I feel like I picked the best place. I could go anywhere, and I picked the best place. An experience I will always live with.”
He’s still close with members of that class he was a part of. Thanks in part to him, it was the No. 4 class in the country according to ESPN, including the likes of Melvin Ingram and Stephen Garcia.
He admits if a bigger college ever came calling him as a coach, he’d move up. For the moment, he likes where he’s at, working with young kids and high school students. The sport gave him his opportunities, and he’s not going to move too far from it.
“I want to kind of give back and give what I can,” Richardson said. “What I’ve learned from the game, give it back. Basically I’ve been staying busy.”