Richardson originally signed with the Tigers as the crown jewel of their 2009 recruiting class. Rated by recruiting experts as the top defensive tackle prospect and a top five overall talent, Richardson was unable to fulfill the academic obligations and was instead forced to take the junior college route at the College of the Sequoias (CA).
While there, Richardson's legend continued and he briefly verbally committed to Southern California before electing to stick with his original plan and return to Missouri, his home state.
Characterized by Tigers defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski as "the most hyped player ever to play at Missouri," Richardson didn't get a starting position handed to him. He entered camp last on the depth chart and had to work his way up, quickly proving to be a standout as part of the rotation but only starting two games last year as the Tigers returned starters Dominique Hamilton and Terrell Resonno.
Despite his limited opportunities, Richardson developed into the Tigers' most disruptive interior defender in 2011, earning honorable mention all-conference honors with 37 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks.
He set several career bests in 2012 with 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. Richardson also had three forced fumbles, a blocked kick and a 60-yard fumble return.
"This has been my dream ever since I was a little kid," said Richardson. "It's still not easy leaving Mizzou like this, but I know I'm ready.
"I really appreciate all the support I got here at Mizzou, and I know that they will help me and my family with his next step. I'll always be a Tiger."
Is quick off the snap, demonstrating the burst to slip through gaps before trap blocks can be effective. Possesses a short area burst to close and surprising flexibility to adjust and make tackles in space. Shows good balance and recognition against cut blocks. Active hands to handcuff offensive linemen attempting to get into his pads and control, demonstrating a quick, fluid arm-over swim move and good strength to rip free from his opponent.
Excellent vision and recognition to take advantage of his ability to disengage from blocks and put himself in position to make plays, showing the ability to sniff out screens, draws, etc. Athletic and instinctive enough that the Missouri defensive coaches would occasionally drop him back into coverage on zone blitzes.
Showed a terrific motor throughout the 2012 season, often hustling down the line and yards downfield (at times 20 yards+) in pursuit of the ball. Closes quickly and with power, exploding into tackles and showing good hand-eye coordination to strip the ball away. Stepped up his level of play against top competition (Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona State). Has the size and athleticism of a future Pro Bowl defensive tackle.
WEAKNESSES: Has only had one dominant season at the FBS level (just 13 starts in 24 games) and there is some concern about how motivated he'll remain once he signs a big NFL contract. Has a tendency to stand up out of his stance and lose the leverage battle, occasionally struggling to break free until it's too late in short-yardage situations.
More productive rushing the passer, recognizing the dump-off pass and pursuing from behind with passion than actually getting home for the QB sack (just three sacks in his "dominant" 2012 campaign). Has struggled with academics in the past, resulting in his transferring to a junior college after signing with Missouri as a highly touted prep. Was also suspended for Missouri's final home game of the 2012 season (Syracuse) for violating team rules, reportedly for academics).
Teams had their medical staffs check out Richardson at the Combine, as he underwent shoulder surgery following the 2011 season.
Compares To: Tyson Alualu, DT, Jacksonville Jaguars - If NFL scouts are convinced he'll maintain it once he cashes his first paycheck, the combination of size, athleticism and the high-revving motor Richardson demonstrated this season could lead to a shockingly high grade for Mizzou star, just as it did for Alualu, the surprise No. 10 overall pick of the 2010 draft.