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Syracuse Shockingly Recruiting Problem Child Nu’Keese Richardson

Palm Beach Post

(Update: 5:44p. A source has told The Fizz that Syracuse has not offered Nu’Keese Richardson a scholarship. This contradicts a Palm Beach Post report in which Richardson’s high school coach, Blaze Thompson, says SU has an offer out. It’s also unclear whether Kansas is still interested. For the latest on the recruitment of Richardson follow us on Twitter @orangefizz.)

Nu’Keese Richardson has more baggage than JetBlue, but it hasn’t stopped Syracuse from recruiting him. If you find it hard to believe that after disciplining his players for all sorts of offenses large and small, Doug Marrone would pursue a player with more skeletons in his closet than all the recent SU football castoffs combined – don’t.

And there’s no doubt that Richardson has had to rent out some extra storage space over the last couple years, because the bones haven’t stopped piling up.

Prepare for The Fizz’s acclaimed National Signing Day coverage in less than two weeks. On Feb. 2nd Team Fizz will have you covered with live blogging and interviews with the commits all day long. Also, cast your Syracuse vote in the Volvo Big East Challenge. Grass roots movement – it’s go time.

Richardson, a former star wide receiver at Pahokee High School in Florida, seemed destined for stardom at the college level (and perhaps even beyond that) when he graduated high school in ’09. He was ranked in the top 10 at his position in the country by both Scout and Rivals.

The high school standout had offers from many of the nation’s top football programs, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and USC. He committed to the Gators initially, before Lane Kiffin convinced him (legally, of course) to change his mind and attend Tennessee.

But Richardson didn’t last long, as Kiffin was forced to dismiss Richardson from the team that November:

“Police arrested Richardson, teammates Mike Edwards and Janzen Jackson, and 22-year-old Marie Montmarquet early Nov. 12 and charged each with three counts of attempted armed robbery for an incident at a Pilot convenience store near campus.

Richardson, who had no prior arrests, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted robbery.

The three victims told police Richardson and Edwards approached their parked car and yelled, ‘Give me everything you got.’ They said Richardson had what looked like a semi-automatic handgun, but actually was a CO2-powered pellet gun. The victims said they had no money. When Jackson emerged from the store, the three Tennessee players drove away in Montmarquet’s light blue Toyota Prius.”

Richardson claimed the so-called robbery attempt was a prank. The Knox County District Attorney agreed, but said Richardson’s actions were still criminal. Regardless, doesn’t exactly sound like Marrone-quality behavior.

The problems for Richardson don’t end at that incident. Check out Richardson’s rap sheet since he left Knoxville:

  • Admitted he had drug and alcohol problems at Tennessee.
  • Enrolled at tiny Hampton University (FCS) last spring, said he was happy, and wanted to play out his college career there.
  • His coaches noticed his work ethic starting to deteriorate, in the classroom and on the field.
  • Abruptly left Hampton last summer without notifying any of his coaches.
  • Posted a video on Twitter, showing him and his friends appearing to steal a t-shirt (though he said he actually paid for it, and was never charged).
  • Posted a video on Facebook in which he’s sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car, holding an open can of Four Loko (he is underage).
  • Played this fall at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas as both a receiver and cornerback. Finished the season tied for fourth among all junior college players with seven interceptions.
  • Currently attending Palm Beach State College trying to get his associate’s degree, so he can gain Division 1-A eligibility in 2011.

There have been plenty of bumps in the road, but it looks like things have smoothed out for Richardson lately. He apparently stayed out of trouble at Coffeyville, and now reportedly has scholarship offers from Kansas and Syracuse.

His first choice would have been to stay in Florida and play D-1 ball, but no Sunshine State schools are interested. At Kansas he could remain in-state. SU is an attractive option as well, because Richardson has relatives who live in CNY.

The lesson here is that at the end of the day, talent wins out. Marrone has to be sick and tired of suspending and dismissing players from his team at this point, yet he’s going after a guy who seems like a brutal combination of Mike Williams and Malcom Cater.

Maybe bringing Richardson in is an easier gamble to take heading into next season, as opposed to last season. The Orange has lacked bodies the past couple of years, but sacrificing a scholarship isn’t as risky with a projected full roster of young, healthy players.

There’s no telling how good, bad, or ugly Richardson could end up being for SU. Sounds like Marrone surprisingly wants to find out. Question is, do you want to see him in orange?

Posted: Andrew Kanell

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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