Name: Sean Richardson.
Height/weight: 6-foot-2 1/2, 216 pounds.
40 time: 4.43.
Scout Dave-Te' Thomas' grade: 4.9.
Career highlights: Richardson was a three-year starter, including all 13 games as a senior. He finished second on the team with 63 tackles, including two sacks and 6.5 tackles for losses. His only career interception came as a senior. As a junior, he had 98 tackles and seven tackles for losses.
Sean Richardson is a big deal in his hometown of Linden, Ala.
So big that, upon choosing the Green Bay Packers from among 14 undrafted free agent offers, the big, athletic safety from Vanderbilt was given the key to the city.
"That was very, very exciting. That was a big day for me," Richardson, a yes-sir, no-sir kind of guy, told Packer Report on Wednesday. "They awarded me the key to the city and a plaque that talked about all of my accomplishments throughout my career playing football as well as in the classroom. It was a big thing and I really appreciate it. Getting the key to the city is a huge honor."
Richardson was the first athlete in the history of Linden — a city of 2,227 located in west-central Alabama — to earn a Division I scholarship.
Still, Richardson dared to dream big when he was a kid. When he got to the NFL and some kid would ask him for his autograph, he'd be ready. So, he signed his name countless hundreds of times — filling up page after page in notebook after notebook.
"One of my good friends, she still has one of the original copies and she sent me a picture of it about a month ago," Richardson said. "It was back when I was in junior high practicing autographs. I thought that was pretty cool."
None of those, however, was as cool as the signature on his contract with the Packers.
While he went undrafted, Richardson was a hot commodity afterward. The Packers were among 14 teams that wanted to sign him. A few of those clubs were intrigued by the possibility of Richardson adding 15 pounds and playing linebacker. Green Bay, however, wants him to play safety.
"It was a long Saturday and frustrating at times, but it's just a blessing to be in the position I'm in now," Richardson said. "A few times, a team was on the clock actually and said they were about to pick me up and I'd get excited but it never worked out. But that's OK. There's nothing I can do about it. The only thing I can do is take care of business and make the team."
Richardson "definitely" knows about the Packers' safety situation, with Charlie Peprah, fourth-round pick Jerron McMillian and holdovers Anthony Levine and M.D. Jennings in competition to start opposite Morgan Burnett. Richardson also is aware of the Packers' history with undrafted free agents. Levine (2010) and Jennings (2011) weren't drafted, either.
If there's a knock on Richardson, it's that he was mostly an in-the-box safety at Vanderbilt. Richardson's heard that, too, and is eager to prove he can play at the line of scrimmage in run support and center field in pass coverage.
"Most of my career at Vandy, I played in the box because of how the defense was run," Richardson said. "This year, I played a little bit of both — in the box and deep safety — but I was kind of set back with an ankle injury at the beginning of the season, so that decreased my productivity."
Richardson, who will be joined in Green Bay by his good friend Casey Hayward, has worked for years toward this goal. On his first day of junior high school, when the teacher asked the students what they wanted to be when they grew up, Richardson said he wanted to play in the NFL.
"It's a blessing," he said. "I always use the quote ‘hard work pays off,' and I'd tell a lot of people that. I guess they remembered because a few people called me or shot me a text and said ‘hard work pays off.' It's a blessing. I want to take the opportunity and run with it."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.