Kevin Richardson will have his jersey retired tonight between the girls’ and boys’ basketball games between East Bladen and South Robeson.
Richardson, who graduated from East Bladen High is 2004, was a standout football player for the Eagles and went on to help lead Appalachian State University to three National champions.
The 5-foot-9 190-pound runningback led East Bladen to and undefeated regular season and to the Eastern finals his senior year when he was named the team’s MVP. The team finished the season with a 13-1 record.
With not many of the larger universities showing a lot of interest in his playing ability, Richardson enrolled at Appalachian State in the fall of 2004.
His freshman year he emerged as Appalachian’s top rushers after entering fall camp as a relative unknown . He ranked second on the squad with 347 rushing yards, but led the Mountaineers’ with 4.9 yards per rush.
He also caught 16 passes for 118 yards and finished the season with 465 all-purpose yards (42.3 yards per game), good for fourth on the team. He saw action in all 11 games and made one start.
While at East Bladen he rushed for 2,225 yards and 36 touchdowns during prep career. Richardson received 2A all-state recognition as a senior, as well as first-team all-region and all-conference accolades each of his final two seasons. In addition to three football monograms, he lettered three times in track and field and twice in baseball.
“Kevin is a prime example of what hard work and dedication will do for you,” East Bladen football coach Lenon Fisher said. “He never gave up while looking for a place to play college football. When things weren’t going well, he stayed determined to reach his goal of playing at a higher level. It worked out well for him, and Appalachian State.”
His sophomore year at Appalachian State, he was named third-team all-America by Football Gazette and to first-team all-Southern Conference selection by the league’s coaches and media.
He rushed for 1,433 yards, the highest total ever by an ASU sophomore and the third-best mark in Appalachian history regardless of class.
He was also ASU’s leading receiver with 52 receptions for 558 yards. His 19 rushing touchdowns fell just one short of John Settle’s record set in 1986. His 21 total touchdowns (19 rushing, two receiving) and 126 total points both set school records.
Richardson was ranked 29th nationally in rushing, 18th in all-purpose yards (2,038) and 18th in scoring (126 points), and earned two national player of the week awards .
He broke the 100-yard rushing barrier six times in 15 games, and fell just one yard short of rushing for 100 yards in all seven home games. He found the end zone in 11-of-15 contests, topped 100 all-purpose yards 10 times, and averaged 5.4 yards per rush and 10.7 yards per catch.
During his junior year, he garnered first-team all-America plaudits from College Sporting News and third-team recognition from the Associated Press and Sports Network.
He was voted the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches and media and named NCAA Division I Championship MVP by CSN after rushing for 611 yards and 11 touchdowns during the FCS playoffs, including 179 yards and four TDs in title game triumph over UMass.
He set NCAA D-I FCS record with 30 rushing touchdowns and 186 points on the season and set an ASU single-season record with 1,676 rushing yards on the campaign.
He led the SoCon in four categories; rushing yards (1,676), all-purpose yards (1,961), scoring (186 pts.) and touchdowns (31). He rushed for 100-plus yards in 9-of-15 games, including nine of the final 11 outings of the season and the mark could have been higher if not for the fact that he was pulled from many games with the outcome already decided early in the second half.
He rushed for multiple touchdowns eight times, including three twice and four four time, and was also ASU’s third-leading receiver with 30 catches for 285 yards and a touchdown.
He garnered National Player of the Week accolades on three occasions, and was named SoCon’s Offensive Player of the Week twice.
Going into his senior year Richardson had his sights set on winning the third National championship for Appalachian, something the team accomplished. A big high light of the year came as the Apps defeated then No. 5 ranked Michigan in the season opener. The feat shocked the nation and brought national attention to Appalachian State.
He had already broken nearly every scoring record in Appalachian annals, he set his sights on the school’s career rushing marks, another record he achieved before the year ended with the National championship.
Richardson is a powerful runner that can get yards both between the tackles and off the edges, yet has breakaway speed once he reaches the secondary
Richardson is only the second East Bladen athlete to have their jerseys retired. The other was three-sport athlete Ann Hancock who had her basketball jersey retired.
Hancock was a standout in basketball at East Bladen in the late 80’s. She went on to lead Wingate College to a National championship, and helped coach the North Carolina women’s team that won the National championship while she was enrolled as a graduate student. She has been head women’s basketball coach at UNC-Wilmington for the past several years.