Attitude, work ethic drives Richards’ success
Ottawa High School senior Jose Richards is a coaches dream.
Richards, a three-sport athlete for the Cyclones, is poised for a breakout senior year in all three sports — football, basketball and baseball.
The senior is all about playing a role in the teams’ success.
“The first thing I think about Jose is commitment and work ethic,” OHS boys basketball coach Cliff McCullough said. “He is one of those kids that is competitive, he works hard and he will not complain one bit. He is one of those kids that coaches really like. You know what you are going to get. You know he is going to work his tail off. You can count on him. He is one of those special kind of kids.”
Richards is a self-made athlete, taking nothing for granted.
“He is a clock-in and go-to work guy,” Cyclone football coach Rob Hedrick said. “He never stops working. He leads from the front. To me, those are always your best leaders. He makes his teammates better. He makes the program better. Those are the kids you build (with).”
Richards’ high school career so far has been playing secondary roles. In football, he was scout team and junior varsity player in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He played varsity as a junior.
In basketball, Richards was regulated to JV the past two seasons, playing behind a talented and deep senior class. In baseball, he played junior varsity as a sophomore and his junior season was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.
“He understands how it works,” McCullough said. “He would have liked to have more time on varsity. He kept working and plugging away. That is all we can tell these kids. Prove us wrong. Give me a reason that I have to play you. He is one of those kids you tell you want this done and it gets done.
“He is bidding his time until he gets his chance. He had a great JV year as a junior and sophomore. He is a really good football player we need. He is a good basketball player we are going to need.”
Richards kept his eye on the goal — helping his team win — despite not being a star.
“It takes heart,” Richards said. “Anybody can go out there and stand around and catch a ball. Making the varsity level, it is a grind. It is not that easy. Everybody on the field wants to be there and win. They are trying their hardest. That is why varsity games are so fun to be apart of because everybody wants the same thing. Only one team can walk away with the (win).”
Richards’ attitude is refreshing for everybody.
“A guy like that with his attitude, you have no doubt he will step up to plate,” McCullough said. “Off the field and off the court, he is a great kid.”
Richards said all the seniors are motivated to leave a legacy.
“We want to leave a mark this year,” he said. “Be remembered for something we did, be it a winning season or beating a certain team.”
Richards takes that motivation to every workout.
“Before every workout, I have it in my mind why I am working out,” he said. “I am trying to prove to coaches, people in the community and teammates that I am here to work and do something for this team.
“I feel like a play with a certain passion and chip on my shoulder. I take it personal when somebody says we don’t have team leadership. We want to win. When you really want to win and compete, it is a different level.”
Richards covets being a role model for young players and children.
“Being a little kid, I always dreamed, coming to high school games, not only worship those guys, but want to be one of those guys,” Richards said. “It is my time to be that guy. Show that little kid, it is possible.”
Richards said preparation is key to being successful.
“Even if you are not a starter or playing that much, people see you working,” he said. “Since my freshman year, I have been staying after (basketball) practice shooting. I will stay after football practice and get more reps in. Coaches see you work. You have to keep at it and keep grinding. Even if it does not seem like you are (seeing) any success, you will get your chance eventually. What you do with that chance and if you are prepared for it, will determine your future.”
Richards prides himself on not being a one-dimensional athlete in any sport.
“I try to be versatile,” Richards said. “In baseball, I play multiple positions. I try to do the best I can wherever they put me.”
He can play multiple positions for the basketball team, but expects to fill the role of an undersized post player.
In football, he has changed positions every year. He stepped in to play quarterback and defensive end as a freshman. As a sophomore, he played a variety of positions on offense and outside linebacker.
As a junior, he moved to defensive back and receiver.
“He can handle anything,” Hedrick said. “Those guys can be your coaches on the field. He will be there for his team whenever we need him.”
His senior year, he expects to be the go-to receiver on offense and play defensive back on defense.
“This will be my first year knowing my position going into the season,” Richards said. “That will be an advantage.”
Receiver is his favorite position, using his 6-foot-3 wiry frame along with his 27-inch vertical to catch passes in traffic.
“Since elementary school, I have had people throwing me footballs and trying to catch them and make certain plays,” he said.
Richards did not sulk when spring sports and school were canceled in March.
“I was a little disappointed in baseball when they said we were not able to play this year,” he said. “A lot of people thought it was a downer when they canceled baseball and school. I try to stay positive. Now, it is go time for me. Get ready for football. Workout every day and try to get better every day.”
McCullough said Richards’ leadership is invaluable to all his coaches.
“He has already shown that role this summer for football.” McCullough said. “During the quarantine, he got kids together, got them out to the field.”
Richards said leadership is a serious role he embraced.
“Since they shut school down, we have been having practices with a lot of the younger guys,” he said. ‘If it is the fourth quarter and we need a big play, our bodies will be right and our minds will be able to push through. It is tiring, but in your mind, you have to push through. Part of that comes down to conditioning.”
Richards would like to play college football. He sent out a highlight video to college coaches this spring. Culver-Stockton coaches took notice and offered him a scholarship.
“It feels good,” Richards said of the first college offer. “It felt like hard work is paying off. I have been wavering what I want to do. Now that I am talking with coaches, it has excited me.”
Richards will attend a Kansas Wesleyan football camp later this summer and hopes to catch the attention of other college coaches.
“That will give us all some pretty good exposure,” he said. “There will be some of the best players in Kansas there. You are going up against the best. The competition is there. There is a certain energy involved with that. Everybody turns it up and is able to show people what they are capable of.”
Richards views recruiting as a process and will be vigilant in making his college decision.
“I have talked to coaches from all kinds of levels,” he said. “I am not sure how they see me. I am still waiting on more options. The coach and culture of the school is a big thing.
“I will pray about it.”