Print and Go Back ESPN.com: On The Trail: West Region [Print without images]

Sunday, March 10, 2013
California RB making name for himself

By Brandon P. Oliver

LOS ANGELES -- When thinking of West Coast running backs in the Class of 2013, the conversation usually starts and ends with Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom). While Mixon has the offers and the reputation to back it up, another elite back in the Golden State is gaining momentum on the recruiting trail.

After picking up early offers from Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, RB Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale) recently added two more big offers. The 5-foot-9, 196-pound prospect, who ran for 1,836 yards as a junior, has added offers from Nebraska and Tennessee since the start of March.

Mixon is widely considered the top back in the West, but Richard, who participated in Saturday's Nike SPARQ Combine here, plans to challenge that notion before the end of his senior season.

"He's a great player and I have a lot respect for him as a player, but I feel like I can do everything he can do," Richard said of Mixon. "I don't have the offers that he does but I feel like I will have the opportunity to prove myself in the next nine months."

Richard is short in stature, but an increased emphasis on training has resulted in added weight since the end of Palmdale's season. While Kurt Scoby -- who recently left Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany after previous stints at Los Angeles Cathedral, West Covina (Calif.) Charter Oak and Santa Fe Springs (Calif.) St. Paul -- has received most of the acclaim in terms of being the best RB in Southern California, Richard is making a run at the top spot in the hierarchy of West Coast running backs.

Richard already has several offers, and a couple of Pac-12 schools stand out for the powerful yet elusive back.

"I've been talking to Arizona State a lot recently," he said. "One day I came home from school expecting to get a letter or two. I had a stack with handwritten letters from every coach on their staff."

UCLA also stands out as a local favorite because of another strong connection to the Bruins staff.

"Coach [Jim Mora] is like a father figure to me," said Richard, who will be at today's Nike camp in Redondo Beach. "I am close with his son and he has always been there for me, so going there would help me adjust to being out on my own."

Richard plans to attend the Oregon Football Camp in mid-June and hopes to receive an offer by impressing the Ducks coaches in person.

"I've been in touch with Coach [Gary] Campbell and coach Don Pellum quite a bit, and they said that I have an offer waiting on me once they see me in person," Richard said. "I'm excited to get up there and check it out. They are a great program and they know how to use their running backs really well."