Razorback teammates and fans are mourning the loss of Richard Richardson, one of the key defensive players in the Lou Holtz era at Arkansas and a member of the 1982 All_SWC team. Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson noted in his Friday COVID-19 update that Richardson, who was a substance abuse counselor for community corrections, is the first state of Arkansas employee to pass away as a result of the virus.
Former University of Arkansas Sports Information Director Rick Schaeffer was in his first year in that job when Richardson arrived as a part of what some say was the best freshmen football class ever at the school. Gary Anderson was in that class along with Billy Ray Smith. Six of them, including Richardson, were starters in the Orange Bowl game that season.
Normally sports publicity people don’t worry much about how present incoming freshmen to the media. Most are a year or two away from drawing the attention of reporters and fans but these rookies were clearly an exception. Richardson immediately worked himself into the starting lineup at noseguard and played so well that Schaeffer began send one of his assistants, Charlie Fiss, to try to get quotes from him. Fiss, who later became the sports information director of the Cotton Bowl, didn’t have much luck.
“Richard would smile at him, and he had this wonderful smile, but he just didn’t say much. He was as quiet as could be” Schaeffer recalled. “You would ask him a question and he’d give you a look like, ‘I know the answer to that but I’m not gonna tell you.’ “
In time Richardson began to warm up to the idea that publicity came with the territory and slowly he began to show a bit more of his personality.
“He might only say five or six words but he was hilarious,” Schaeffer noted, “and I’m guessing he was that way around his teammates from the beginning.”
“He was quiet,” former teammate Robert Farrell admitted. “But it wasn’t because he was nervous or anything like that. He wasn’t interested in being a sound byte or being on TV. He just preferred to let his actions on the field speak for him. But he was hilarious to be around and he was a bit of a prankster. Not so much of an instigator but somebody that would be involved with others in things like that. But mostly he was just a really nice guy. We all really liked him.”
There was nothing understated about Doughnut Richardson’s playing ability. Teammates quickly learned that when he put a uniform on he only knew one speed. All out.
“He was harder to block in practice than some of the All-SWC and All-American players that our linemen faced in games, “Farrell remembered. “He was quick and he used his hands well. This was at time when most defensive line players didn’t do as much of that.”
“Back then the SWC had some really good offensive linemen, “Schaeffer explained. “They weren’t as big as they are today but most were in the 260, 270 range. Richard was about 230 but he was so quick he’d get around you and he was strong. He’d push you backwards. Leverage is everything and you couldn’t get any leverage on him.”
Farrell said he was shocked to learn of the passing of his former teammate, telling the Pig Trail Nation, “I am getting older. I’m 62 now. Doughnut was a couple of years younger. It makes you realize that life is a vapor. We’re not promised the next day or the next minute. Although it’s a sobering moment, a sad moment, you do have that belief that I’m going to see him again in a place called Heaven.”
Hutchinson noted that he had spoken to a family member of Richardson’s.
“I love that they described him as the best noseguard in the history of Razorback football,” Hutchinson recalled. “That’s family pride. He served our state well and I just wanted to acknowledge publicly his life and the contributions he has made.”