Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson is heading to the NFL Draft this spring, deciding to pas son returning for his senior season in Knoxville.
“After praying and talking it over with my family and coaches, I believe that now is the right time to make a statement about my future,” said Richardson in a statement released by Tennessee. “After careful consideration, I have decided to forego my senior year and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.”
Richardson played in 36 games since arriving to play football for Tennessee. That includes starts in each of the past 24 games for the Vols, playing left tackle for an offensive line that provided protection for a rushing offense that has steadily improved each of the past three seasons, moving up from 12th in the SEC in rushing offense in 2011 to seventh this year. This season’s Tennessee team put up more rushing yards than any Vols offense since 2004.
played in 36 games, starting the final 24 over the last two seasons at left tackle. This past season, Richardson was part of an offensive line that aided the Vols gaining 2,261 rushing yards, the most by the team since 2004.
“We appreciate Antonio’s efforts and contributions to the University of Tennessee,” said head coach Butch Jones. “He will always be a Vol For Life and we wish him all the best as he looks to further his career in the National Football League.”
Redshirt Junior Jacob Gilliam has been listed behind Richardson on Tennessee’s depth chart, and the future of offensive tackle is starting to look secure. According to Vols Quest, Tennessee currently has four verbal commitments from offensive linemen in the Class of 2014, including four star offensive tackle Dontavious Blair. Tennessee also added four-star offensive tackle Austin Sanderson to the Class of 2013 among the three offensive linemen added in 2013.