With his family at his side, camera crews from Netflix’s QB1: Beyond The Lights filming behind him, and a room full of supporters in front of him at Eastside auditorium, Rams quarterback Anthony Richardson signed with the University of Florida on Wednesday.
Richardson was one of thousands around the country who turned their pledges into substance by putting their signatures on National Letters of Intent as part of the Early Signing Period.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound athlete spoke to the crowd for about 10 minutes, thanking his coaches, family and all those who helped him along the journey from a skinny kid to a major college prospect. Richardson, a four-star signee, was one of 21 the Gators picked up Wednesday.
“This means a lot, being able to sign with the University of Florida, being able to pursue my dreams as a quarterback and go to college,” said Richardson, who in six games his senior season passed for 1,398 yards, with eight touchdowns and one interception. “Having the support of my family and friends, that means a lot as well.”
Richardson missed the final four games of the season with a shoulder injury. He likely could have played the final two games, but Eastside wasn’t advancing to the playoffs.
“My freshman year, I didn’t really know about signing,” Richardson said. “Some people go to college and some people don’t.
“Being here and looking back to where I was, it feels good. I finally made it to my dreams.”
He also rushed for 151 yards and seven touchdowns. As a junior, Richardson passed for 1,567 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions, rushed for 924 yards and 16 TDs for the 7-4 Rams,
“I feel like I have grown a lot (in the last two years),” he said. “Working with coach Denny (Thompson) and watching other quarterbacks helped me out because I got to see how they played.
“It helped me. I went into training to become a better quarterback.”
Richardson, who graduated early from the Professional Academies Magnet at Loften High School, has had a few practices with the Gators already as they prepare for the Orange Bowl against Virginia. He said speed is the biggest difference between high school and college.
“Everyone is fast,” he said. “ The D-linemen are fast and the linebackers are fast too.
“Just getting used to the speed of everything. That is the biggest difference for me.”
“It’s an exciting day for us,” said Eastside athletic director Philip Crutchfield. “I’m excited personally for Anthony and his family. It has been a great four years.
“I’ve enjoyed watching him run down the court for basketball and field in football. It has been fun for us.”
Eastside football coach Cedderick Daniels, who took over the Rams program when Richardson was a freshman, said Richardson excelled not only on the field but in the classroom.
“Words can’t express how I feel about this kid,” Daniels said. “He is the most humble, four-star athlete you will ever meet.
“He is not cocky at all, he just plays Fortnite until 4 o’clock in the morning. He has done so much for our program.”
Richardson said he has no timetable as to when he expects to play. He said he will put his trust in coach Dan Mullen.
“I am just going to trust the process,” he said. “Coach Mullen told me to trust the process, he said when he needs me to play, I will be ready to play.”
CORRECTION: This story was updated with the school Richardson graduated from. He played football at Eastside High, but graduated early from the Professional Academies Magnet at Loften High School in Gainesville.