12 for '12: Jordan Richards

Jordan Richards (8) received some important playing time as a true freshman, including Stanford's triple-overtime win over USC. Without graduated seniors Delano Howell and Michael Thomas, Stanford may need him to take on a bigger role in 2012.

We have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the likes of Stepfan Taylor and Chase Thomas this season, but replacing Andrew Luck and the other members of last year's 11-win squad will require a team effort. Over the next 12 days we'll profile 12 less heralded Cardinal players whose ability to adjust to larger roles could determine whether Stanford is competing for a third straight BCS invite or settling for a spot in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

Previously Featured: Drew Terrell | Anthony Wilkerson | Henry Anderson | Ed Reynolds | Kevin Danser | Brendon Austin | James Vaughters

Name: Jordan Richards
Position: SS
Year: So.
Ht./Wt.: 5-11/208
Career Stats: 31 tackles, one pass breakup
Shoes to Fill: Delano Howell, Michael Thomas

Where He Came From: Richards was rated as the No. 60 athlete in the nation by Rivals.com in the Class of 2011. He did a little bit of everything for Folsom High School, racking up 563 rushing yards, 1,068 receiving yards, 17 touchdowns, 61 tackles, and two interceptions in his senior year alone. That year, Richards led Folsom to the CIF Division II state title. He received offers from 10 schools, including seven from the Pac-12, before settling on Stanford in August of 2010.

What He's Done: Richards received more than his expected share of playing time as a true freshman, as he filled in for an injured Howell several times throughout the season. He started three times: at USC, vs. Oregon, and at Oregon State. Richards showed some signs of promise - he made 17 tackles in his first two games with major playing time, including six solo tackles - but he struggled afterward, managing only six total tackles in his final three games.

Assessing his freshman season, Richards was upfront about his inconsistency: "It was, at times, a blur. And other times, I felt like I was in control and the game slowed."

Training Camp Outlook: Other than quarterback, the most gaping hole Stanford needs to fill this season is the secondary. And unlike the quarterback position, Stanford's secondary struggled at times even before losing its best players to graduation. Now, without Delano Howell, Michael Thomas, Johnson Bademosi, and Corey Gatewood, Stanford's secondary is its primary concern. In particular, the Cardinal must replace its two starting safeties, who were the biggest playmakers and most consistent performers in the secondary. As Jack wrote earlier this week, Ed Reynolds has distinguished himself during camp, likely leaving a fierce competition for the other starting safety spot. Richards certainly had his moments in 2011, but so did Devon Carrington, and the two appear to be the leading candidates to take the other starting role. However, they are being pushed by Kyle Olugbode and freshmen Zach Hoffpauir, Alex Carter, and Drew Madhu. It's not surprising that so many players are in the mix, because Stanford's secondary is filled with talented but unproven players. Richards has as much experience as any of the leading candidates, but he'll have to put that experience to good use in order to win the starting job.

Richards on Twitter: Sadly, Jordan Richards does not appear to be setting up shop in the Twitterverse.

Alphabetically Speaking: Richards falls between two Cardinal football players nearly a century apart: Ellsworth L. Rich (1892) and Albert Richardson (1988-91).

Numerically Speaking: Richards has had the tough task of wearing No. 8 immediately after standout wide receiver and current Cincinnati Bengal Ryan Whalen.

Related Video: Let's meet Jordan Richards (or at least the Jordan Richards of two years ago):

Fun Fact: Richards played in Folsom (home of the famous Folsom prison) alongside quarterback Dano Graves. Graves, who was MaxPreps National Player of the Year in 2010, chose to attend Air Force but is not listed on the Falcons' 2012 roster.

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