WC kicker commits to Mississippi State |[9/12/06]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Richards has connected on four field goals this season.

Eric Richards is taking his booming right leg to Starkville.

And not for this Saturday’s game against Tulane.

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The all-state kicker from Warren Central gave a verbal commitment to Mississippi State before Saturday’s loss to Auburn. Verbal commitments are non-binding. National Signing Day, the first day football players can sign officially, is Feb. 7.

&#8220I like the coaches a lot and felt really comfortable up there,” Richards said. &#8220They seem like they are heading in the right direction with their commitments for next year.”

Richards has booted four field goals in Warren Central’s first three games this season. He missed a 49-yarder against South Pike, but the kick had enough distance, but missed wide.

&#8220I really thought it was good,” said Richards, who also missed a long field goal against Kirby.

The senior standout student has already qualified academically for college.

&#8220I like that he is staying in the state. It’s always good to keep ‘em in state,” WC coach Curtis Brewer said. &#8220There are a lot of alumni and fans around here that will be able to keep up with him. Coach Croom is doing everything he can to build a program and Eric is the kind of person you build a program with.”

Richards has been one of the most valuable weapons on WC’s team through a 1-2 start. His kickoffs usually sail well into the end zone negating a return. His booming punts hang in the air giving time for coverage to arrive.

Most importantly, though, is that Richards is a near automatic weapon to score in an offense that is struggling mightily to find the end zone.

The Vikings, after a 37-point performance in the first game, have scored one touchdown in each of the last two games. Richards may be able to help Mississippi State immediately. The team’s kicking and punting has been a rocky affair the past several years.

In 2005, Bulldog kickers combined to make 7 of 12 field goals. Adam Carlson has missed both of his field goal attempts this season.

&#8220Their kickoff guy is graduating after this year,” Richards said. &#8220They have a punter that is doing well, but the kicking game is not up to par.”

That fact helped sway Richards toward Starkville.

As a junior, Richards connected on 3 of 7 field goal attempts and punted 62 times for a 37-yard average. He earned first-team Class 5A All-State honors following the season.

Richards will become the second Warren Central kicker in the last decade to sign with a Division I school. Mark Haulman punted for Southern Miss after a standout career with the Vikings.

Three Morgans – Rob, Josh and Brett – all played for the Bulldogs and former Vicksburg Gators David Heard and Ben Shelton are on the roster now.

Richards is the first Division I football commitment this season.

&#8220I’m glad that we will continue to see him perform and develop,” Brewer said. &#8220It’s something all of us in Warren County will be proud of.”