His teammates call him “the stove”.
“Stove because a stove in the house is just solid,” said linebacker Jonathan Celestin. “It’s hard to move. You can’t really pick it up.”
Listed at 6 feet, 292 pounds, defensive tackle Steven Richardson was given All-Big Ten third team honors with 31 tackles and 11 tackles for-loss last year, which was enough to put him on three watch lists for best defensive tackle, best interior lineman and best defensive player in college football throughout July.
‘A familiar face’
Head coach P.J. Fleck and Richardson both grew up in the Chicago area and both were considered undersized for playing college football.
The only other Division I offers Richardson received other than Minnesota were from Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.
Fleck was head coach at Western Michigan when it offered the defensive tackle.
“I got a chance to recruit him when I was at Western Michigan,” Fleck said. “I got a chance to get to know his family. That's what it's about, family support groups.”
Richardson said he was close to committing to Western Michigan because of how much of a salesman Fleck was.
“I knew him before he even got [to Minnesota],” Richardson said. “It was good to still have a familiar face with a new coach.”
To relax and recharge after practices and workouts, Richardson said he takes an ice bath and then goes home and plays video games with teammates.
“My relationship with video games is a little concerning,” Richardson said. “There’s a lot of my time taken up that I would be playing video games, but I still find time, maybe two to four [hours per day].”
He said he would like to go into video games for a career after football and he plans to get a minor in graphic design.
Richardson has other ways of kicking back after practice, too. He listens to country music, Frank Ocean and John Mayer when rap gets old and he wants to relax.
Richardson started at least nine games his last three seasons with the Gophers.
Last season, Richardson had 11 tackles for loss for 53 yards, bringing his total to 25 for his career.
This year, Fleck chose Richardson as one of the three Gophers players to represent the team at the Big Ten media days in Chicago on Tuesday and Thursday.
“He’s a staple of our program,” Fleck said at the Big Ten Media Days. “He’s a tough, hard-nosed, blue collar, [from] Chicago, young man.”
Though Richardson struggled with calf and back related injuries in the past, running back Rodney Smith said he’s moved past it.
“He’s in a lot better shape than years past,” Smith said. “Coming into this fall training camp, he’s as healthy as I’ve ever seen him and he’s explosive, and I’m excited to watch him play this fall.”