When Colorado junior wide receiver Paul Richardson announced he would redshirt this season to fully recover from ACL surgery, head coach Jon Embree was relieved.
“I wasn’t fired up about Paul rushing back,” Embree said.
Richardson had surgery in April to repair the torn left ACL he sustained during the final week of spring practices. Returning this season was always a longshot due to the lengthy recovery process, but Richardson had progressed quickly and was aiming for the low end of the 6-12 month rehab window.
Recent reports said Richardson might only miss two to three games, rather than the entire season as initially expected, but the receiver decided to wait to return when he was 100% healthy and available from week one.
“I’m still recovering fast, but to lower the chances of reinjuring it and to make sure I am ready to play when I do touch the field again, I just think it would be the best decision for me to make right now,” he said on Wednesday.
Back in July, Richardson said he wanted to be back at least for the Pac-12 conference opener, but he also hinted to the Boulder Daily Camera that he would be smart and take his time coming back from the surgery.
“Coming back in, say, 17 months is better than coming back in five,” he said at the time.
Last week, Embree told The Daily Camera that Richardson wasn’t ready yet and would need at least a full week of practices before he’d get in a game.
“He hasn’t run any routes really yet. He hasn’t done any team work, timing, all those issues,” Embree said.
Richardson will use his redshirt year and have two years of eligibility remaining.
Embree’s comments on the decision suggest that the coach wasn’t counting on his leading receiver this year.
Richardson played in just nine games last year and had 39 receptions for 555 yards and 5 touchdowns. His numbers were only slightly lower as a true freshman in 2010, when he caught 34 passes for 514 yards and 6 touchdowns.
The Buffs’ new quarterback Jordan Webb hopes true freshman Gerald Thomas can have a similarly productive rookie year this season, when he’ll certainly see more action that he would’ve with Richardson on the field.
“We’re really going to count on him to make some big plays for us,” Webb said.
Thomas is currently the number two “Z” receiver on the depth chart behind redshirt freshman Nelson Spruce, who could have a breakout year as the starter in place of Richardson.
Sophomore Keenan Canty, the team’s receptions leader now that Richardson is out, is at third on the depth chart. He had 14 catches for 161 yards in 2011.