Shaquille Richardson was the second Arizona Wildcats player selected in the 2014 NFL Draft and on Saturday went in the fifth round -- 40 picks after teammate Ka'Deem Carey -- to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Richardson spent much of his Arizona career as the most scrutinized player in the defensive backfield, but he grew up and buckled down his senior season. That helped him become a commodity the Steelers wanted, and in Pittsburgh he'll join fellow UA product Robert Golden.
Known as the risk-taker whose route-jumping got him into trouble more than it helped him make plays, Richardson's benching in favor of the less athletic Derrick Rainey toward the end of his junior season might have been the crucial wakeup call. During his senior year, Richardson was less a liability and seemingly harnessed his over-aggressive tendencies. He also greater improved his tackling ability that all too often saw bigger receivers and backs slip tackles.
The discipline finally came around, and Golden's welcome tweet to Richardson confirmed how much he has grown over the last four years.
Robert Golden (@R0bG0lden) May 10, 2014
Richardson's senior season included 55 tackles, three for loss, three interceptions and seven pass deflections. It's a no-brainer in picking his most impressive play of the season.
Viewed as an athletic but thin corner, Richardson could bulk up from his listed weight of 194 pounds.
The flashes of talent were there ever since he joined Arizona following his decision to leave UCLA because of suspected theft. As his senior season indicated, Richardson perhaps is just learning how far he can go if he takes his talent and combines it with a bit of discipline on and off the field.