CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Mark-Antony Richards didn’t think much of it when Ahmmon Richards decided to tag along for the younger brother’s latest unofficial visit with Miami. The 4-star running back and his family stopped by the older brother’s house in Coral Gables on Saturday before heading to campus to check out the school. The star wide receiver surprised his brother when he said he wanted to come along.
Richards’ day on campus was all-encompassing. He stopped by the school of communication to learn about the broadcasting program. He spent time around the Hurricanes coaches. Eventually, Richards made his way into the locker room for a photo shoot where a pair of jerseys waited. There was the No. 21 the prospect wears at Wellington (Fla.) High School, but there was also a No. 82 sitting next to it. The Richards brothers would take their photos together.
“I didn’t know Ahmmon was going to be there. I was getting my stuff and then he comes out, and I was like, ‘Oh.’ It was an awesome experience. The coaches, they treat me like family. I think I’ll be back again pretty soon,” Richards told DieHards on Sunday at a Mark Richt Football Camp in Coral Gables. “It was pretty cool. I was like, ‘What?’ If he stays for his senior year and I came here, we kind of got an idea of what it would like.
“It was probably the best visit I’ve taken.”
— XXI (@Mark21Richards) June 10, 2018
Throughout his recruitment, Richards has insisted his older brother’s presence in Miami would affect his decision. The receiver hasn’t pressured his brother, especially because they’d only play together for a single season at most. With Richards projected as a potential first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, it’s maybe more than likely the two brothers would never overlap with the Hurricanes.
Miami hasn’t hinged its pitch to the elite athlete on his older brother, either. Sure, the coaches have known the Richards family a long time, which helps, but Richt and his staff doesn’t want Richards to feel he has to join the Hurricanes just because his brother did.
Instead, Miami has mostly tried to prove it has a detailed plan of how to use the versatile prospect, who plays both running back and cornerback for Wellington. The shoot Saturday was the Hurricanes’ most explicit pitch involving the junior.
“It’s like, ‘Oh man,'” Richards said. “It almost seems like we could do it.”
In the past, Miami has pointed to athlete Deejay Dallas as an outline for Richards. While Dallas wound up at running back, he arrived in South Florida capable of playing halfback, wide receiver or even defensive back. Richards, whom the 247Sports composite rankings peg as the No. 5 athlete in the Class of 2019, is similar. Some picture Richards as a tailback. Others view him as a wide receiver. Plenty picture him in the secondary.
— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) June 10, 2018
Most schools are open to figuring things out once Richards gets on campus. Count Miami in the final group, although the Hurricanes have made it clear to Richards they like him for his defense. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound corner sat down with coaches Saturday to get the latest idea of how they view him.
Richards likens the role Miami pitched to Jabrill Peppers’ with Michigan earlier this decade. The senior can play nickelback or be a single-high safety, but his physicality could also let him succeed defensive back Jaquan Johnson at rover or even fill the new striker position, which serves as a hybrid between a linebacker and safety. Versatility is arguably Richards’ greatest asset and the Hurricanes can take advantage of it by moving him around on defense.
“More primarily on defense and touching the ball, getting it in my hands on offense,” Richards said. “That’s kind of the idea, but we’ll see in the near future.”
A good visit is never just about football, though. Richards also got his best look yet at the academic aspect of Miami.
A photo shoot with his brother may make waves on social media. A thorough look at his potential future school, however, may have a bigger influence should he ultimately pick the Hurricanes over Florida and Auburn.
“Talking to the broadcasting because really that’s what I want to do when football is done,” Richards said. “Talking to them to really get an idea of the things I would see, the things they have to develop me as a student.”