Virginia football coach Mike London released a statement yesterday announcing that junior running back Clifton Richardson has decided to leave the team. Richardson hoped "to pursue opportunities elsewhere,” London said. “Clifton will be leaving the University in good academic standing. I wish the best for Clifton as he pursues his academic and athletic goals.”
Richardson's departure comes as a surprise to many. With the graduation of Perry Jones this spring, Richardson seemed poised to challenge fellow junior Kevin Parks at the top of the Virginia depth chart at running back. Richardson rushed for 425 yards on 96 carries during his Virginia career. He shined as a freshman before suffering a lower-body injury that limited his sophomore campaign. Before coming to Virginia, he was a consensus four-star recruit out of Menchville High School in Newport News.
The loss of Richardson leaves Virginia with four scholarship running backs for the 2013 campaign. Parks will be the likely starter headed into fall camp. Junior Khalek Shepherd will be the only other tailback with a carry at the college level. Redshirt freshman Kye Morgan and incoming freshman Taquan Mizzell will round out the running back stable. Mizzell was a five-star recruit from Bayside High School in Virginia Beach.
Check back here at Streaking the Lawn for more analysis about the Virginia football off-season.