After a record-breaking career at Northwestern as he tore up the Colonial League, Cam Richardson spent the next two years of his football career at Lehigh University largely on the sideline and working with the scout team.
This spring, and on Saturday in particular, the rising junior wide receiver began to see the fruits of his labor.
Richardson was awarded the annual Jim Gum Scholarship before the Brown and White Game and then went out and caught four passes for 60 yards as the White (offense) beat the Brown (defense) 48-34 in a modified scoring system at Goodman Stadium.
"It's an extreme honor for me and I'm very glad to accept it," Richardson said.
Gum, a 1980 Pen Argyl graduate and a three-year starter for the Mountain Hawks (1984 grad), passed away in 2006 after a battle with ALS. The award in his name has recently gone to other local products like Noah Robb (Central Catholic) and Josh Parris (Palisades).
Richardson said he remembers Robb winning the award as he was about to come in as a freshman. Two years later, he was appointed the honoree.
"That was great," head coach Andy Coen said. "He's had a really good spring and he had a really good day today."
Lehigh's talented wide receiver group, which returns standouts Troy Pelletier and Gatlin Casey, was missing Luke Christiano and Sasha Kelsey as they work back from injuries. Richardson took advantage of the opportunity and slid into the slot receiver role with the first-team offense Saturday.
"It's obviously nice to be back on the field," Richardson said. "Freshman year and sophomore year were kind of building years for me. Being back out there is really nice and I feel back at home."
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Fogelsville native was a two-time all-state selection while at Northwestern. He left as the program's all-time leader in every career and single-season receiving stat. His senior year alone, Richardson hauled in 47 passes for 758 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing 55 times for 477 yards and 13 touchdowns.
After playing under Tigers head coach Josh Snyder, a former Lehigh standout slot receiver himself, Richardson made the transition from Colonial League to Patriot League.
"Obviously from the Colonial League, the kids are a lot bigger, a lot faster (here)," Richardson said. "But when it comes down to it, it's just football and I've been doing it my whole life. When you get on the field, you just play, it doesn't matter who's against you."
Richardson's first two seasons on South Mountain included plenty of soaking up information from guys ahead of him, getting mental reps and watching film to be ready when his number was called -- which happened to be this spring.
"Cam's doing an outstanding job," said quarterback Brad Mayes, who has taken over the starting job for the graduating Nick Shafnisky. "He's a really good guy. He's done great things for us out here. He's fast, he's shifty, he has good hands. I've been really pleased with what he's been doing."
Now, Richardson hoping to turn that into playing time in the fall. There may be some competition for the starting slot receiver if Christiano and Kelsey are back to full health, but Richardson will look to keep building on his springtime success.
"He's improved, for sure," Coen said. "He's really moved himself toward a situation where you can put him on the field. I'm excited for him."
Greg Joyce may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GJoyce9.
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