As far as announcements of these types that will come over the next month and a half or so, this one will stand as among the least surprising.
Missouri announced in a press release Friday afternoon that defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has decided to forego his final season of collegiate eligibility and make himself available for the 2013 NFL draft.
“This has been my dream ever since I was a little kid,” said Richardson. “It’s still not easy leaving Mizzou like this, but I know I’m ready. I really appreciate all of the support I got here at Mizzou, and I know that they will help me and my family with this next step. I’ll always be a Tiger.”
Originally a Mizzou-then-USC verbal commitment, Richardson flipped back to the Tigers in December of 2010 following two years at the JUCO level as he got his academic house in order. Finally cleared by the NCAA in August of 2011, Richardson played 24 games the past two seasons, including starting all 11 games in which he played this season.
The one game he neither started nor played in was due to an academically-related suspension.
All told, Richardson was credited 18.5 tackles for loss and six sacks during his brief two years in Columbia.
“I’ve always said that when guys have opportunities like these, if they’re ready to go, then they should go,” said Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel. “I have no doubt that Sheldon is ready to play in the NFL, and while we’d love to have him for another year, the important thing is that this is the right decision. It will be fun watching him play on Sundays.”
Based purely on talent, Richardson, who may be more well-known for his comments off the field than his play on it, is as near a lock for a first-round pick as one can get.