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What Kevin Richardson’s Sixth Year Means to the Defense

Richardson was granted

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven’t caught up yet, the Razorbacks got some good news this week. they learned that Kevin Richardson II was granted a sixth year of eligibility and will play for the Hogs this year.

The NCAA has a new, clearer, ruling that players missing a year with injury can receive a sixth year of eligibility if they redshirted their freshman year. Richardson went down in the season opener in 2016 with a torn pectoral muscle. He returned in 2017 and finished the season with 50 tackles and three interceptions. His fumble recovery for a touchdown was also a huge turning point in Arkansas’ win over Ole Miss.

This is welcome news for the Razorback defense both in terms of on the field performance and leadership. Richardson was a team captain last year and will continue that role this season.

On the field, this is a big boost because of his versatility in the secondary, and really bolsters the depth on defense. Last year, he started in the nickel role and should do that again this season. It gives Arkansas the ability to use more of a 4-2-5 defense this year. John Chavis can use that to put his best 11 guys on the field. With Arkansas’ depth at the secondary positions and relatively thin linebackers group, there can be more speed and talent on the field.

Arkansas has Dre Greenlaw and De’Jon Harris at linebacker, and several guys that show promise but aren’t quite ready for every down roles in the SEC. Richardson can come in on passing downs and put less on pressure on players like Hayden Henry and De’Vone Mclure, guys who will benefit from the development and playing time this year, but still need to be slowly added to the defense. Now in the secondary, the group of Richardson, Ryan Pulley, Chevin Calloway, Kamren Curl, and Santos Ramirez will be one of the most experienced units in the SEC, and for Arkansas they will have one of the highest expectations as well.