ACC All Access: Menchville High graduate Clifton Richardson talks about his transfer from Virginia to Liberty

When it came down to evaluating exactly what he wanted in his next college, Clifton Richardson decided he wanted something familiar, but also a place where he’ll have the chance to get a lot of work in the backfield.

Liberty fits that description perfectly for Richardson, a Menchville High graduate who has decided to transfer to the Lynchburg campus after spending the first two years of his college career at Virginia.

He’ll be a junior this coming fall, and he'll be immediately eligible to play at Liberty, a Championship Subdivision program that competes in the Big South Conference.

“They have a very good program,” said Richardson on Tuesday. “They run the ball a lot. (Liberty) coach (Turner) Gill loves pounding the ball, so that was one of the reasons I chose Liberty. It’s a great coaching staff.

“It’s a very multiple offense, instead of being in the I (formation) 90 percent of the time. I can show my versatility.”

Richardson, a 6-foot-0, 210-pound running back who announced 2½ weeks ago he was transferring from U.Va., said he plans to enroll Monday in summer classes at Liberty. In addition to Liberty, he said he looked at Old Dominion, Richmond, North Dakota State and Wisconsin.

He said Marshall showed a lot of interest in him, but even though he has a redshirt year available, he decided he wasn’t interested in transferring to another Bowl Subdivision school and having to sit out a season under NCAA transfer rules.

When he spoke with Gill and Liberty’s coaches, and started to get flashbacks to what he used to do at Menchville, Richardson knew he’d found the right place.

“They basically want to use me the same way I was used in high school,” Richardson said. “I’ll get back to that – having a little fun out there.”

At Menchville, nearly all of the Monarchs’ offense went through Richardson in his junior and senior seasons. On offense, he played running back and wide receiver, and even lined up as a wildcat-style quarterback – a role Richardson said Liberty’s coaches discussed having him fill with the Flames.

Last season, in Gill’s first year at Liberty, the Flames went 6-5 overall, including 5-1 in the Big South. They won six of their last seven games.


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Gill came to Liberty after spending two seasons (2010 and ’11) as the coach at Kansas, where he went 5-19. He also spent four seasons (2006-09) as the coach at Buffalo, posting a 20-30 record.

Liberty averaged 40 carries for 175.8 yards per game last season. It was the fourth-best rushing offense in the Big South. Liberty also averaged 225.3 passing yards, which was third in the conference, and 31 pass attempts per game.

“We are thrilled to have Clifton in our football program because of his character and his football ability,” Gill said in a statement released by Liberty’s athletic department. "He has tremendous power, above average elusiveness and outstanding speed as a running back."

At U.Va., Richardson had 96 carries for 425 yards and two touchdowns in two seasons. Last season, he struggled with hamstring injuries that caused him to miss four games, and finished with just 24 carries for 59 yards in seven games.

U.Va. coach Mike London was encouraged during spring practices by Richardson’s return to full strength. He came out of the spring listed No. 3 on U.Va.’s running back depth chart.

Coming out of Menchville in the class of 2011, he was considered by some recruiting analysts to be among the nation’s top 20 running backs, while other analysts considered him to be among the top 25 athlete prospects or top 50 wide receivers.

In his senior season at Menchville, he ran for 871 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 505 yards. As a junior, he ran for 1,268 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Next season, Liberty may have senior running back Aldreakis Allen (team-high 1,019 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 160 carries last season while starting just one of 10 games played) back, but he's currently on indefinite suspension from the team after being charged with attempted robbery and malicious wounding. Sirchauncey Holloway (162 carries for 747 yards and seven touchdowns last season) will be gone.

Richardson said he’s friends with Liberty senior defensive back/kick returner Kevin Fogg and offensive lineman Hunter Steward, a Virginia Beach native who transferred in 2011 to Liberty from U.Va.

“I’m very excited to learn a new system,” Richardson said. “I’m going to meet some more new teammates and make some new friends.”


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