In what is undoubtedly the longest recruiting courtship in Missouri history, Sheldon Richardson is finally set to become a Tiger. PowerMizzou.com broke the news earlier tonight that Richardson had been cleared to practice with the Tigers on Thursday morning. Here is the more than four-year long timeline that led Richardson to Faurot Field.
*June 4, 2007--Richardson turns heads at the Missouri one-day camp in St. Louis. Checking in at 6-foot-4, 281 pounds, Richardson runs a 4.9 40-yard dash and goes through drills with the tight ends. He reports interest from Wisconsin, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri and Kansas State.
*June 12, 2007--Richardson becomes Missouri's first commitment in the Class of 2009, some 20 months before he will be required to sign a National Letter of Intent.
"I called coach Pinkel and coach Pinkel was like, 'When you're a senior, you have a scholarship waiting for you,'" Richardson said. "He said, let me know when you decide to become a Tiger."
He made the call that night.
*March 17, 2008--Following his junior season at Gateway Tech, Richardson takes an unofficial visit to Columbia and gives it a glowing review.
"I talk about Missouri with a lot of different guys and they always ask me why I committed so early," said Richardson. "I tell them I just knew. They keep telling me who's talking to them and I just tell them that you can fit in at Missouri and it's a great school to be a part of. It's weird for me because schools are still coming after me. I've been committed to Missouri for a long time, but they still recruit me. I know Missouri's going to take care of me. I love talking to the coaches and I know Missouri's the right place for me."
*June 11, 2008--PowerMizzou.com unveils its top 20 Show-Me State players with Richardson at the top. At the time, he is the No. 88 player in the country.
*July 30, 2008--The first sign of wandering eyes hits. Richardson picks up a scholarship offer from Miami.
"I wouldn't say I'm looking around," Richardson said. "I mean, I'm still committed, but I like Miami, though. That might be one of my official visits."
He says he will also visit Oklahoma, Arkansas and Iowa or Kansas State.
*August 11, 2008--Richardson visits Columbia again, hanging out with some future Tigers. Again, he says all the right things:
"After I saw the campus and I saw the Rec center, which was awesome, I wouldn't change anything," said Richardson. "I'm still committed to Missouri. I'm planning on being at every Missouri home game I can this year. I'll definitely be at the dome at the end of the month."
*October 13, 2008--Richardson continues a meteoric rise in the rankings, cracking the nation's top five (up from No. 22).
*October 29, 2008--Richardson is named a U.S. Army All-American.
*November 9, 2008--Richardson creates a buzz with an official visit to Minnesota.
"I don't really have a list of top schools or an order right now because I still have to take all of my trips," Richardson said. "But, to tell you the truth I could see myself playing at Minnesota."
*December 10, 2008--Richardson moves up to No. 4 in the national rankings.
*December 17, 2008--Richardson's flirtations continue. He is asked by a reporter if Florida has a chance to land him.
"I said, 'Well, yeah, of course,'" Richardson said. "It's Florida, man. I said, 'You stand a great chance.'"
*December 21, 2008--Richardson takes his official visit to Missouri.
"Well, just long story short, I'm done with my recruiting. Put that out there," he told PowerMizzou.com. "Sheldon Richardson is done with recruiting. I want that to be the quote for the article."
*January 15, 2009--Richardson tells CaneSport.com he is down to two schools: Missouri and Miami.
*February 1, 2009--Richardson takes an official visit to Miami calling it "a blast," and saying, "It was better than I thought it would be."
*February 4, 2009--Richardson signs a National Letter of Intent to play at Missouri, announcing his choice at a ceremony at Gateway Tech High School.
"I had a long talk last night with my father and my brother and my mom," Richardson said on Signing Day. "It was a real family decision, but it was also my decision."
*June 2009--Richardson fails to qualify academically and enrolls at the College of the Sequoias. Over the next year-and-a-half, he will visit California and rumors will persist, but he will maintain that he is committed to returning to Columbia.
*October 24, 2010--Richardson's second official visit to Mizzou takes place over Homecoming weekend when the Tigers beat top-ranked Oklahoma.
"I'm still a strong commit," he said. "I'm sure after beating Oklahoma I don't want to go anywhere else. Why would I? They've shown they can beat the best of the best. That's the same team I committed to."
*November 4, 2010--The soap opera picks up steam with these quotes:
"I'm still taking these visits to make sure Missouri is really the home for me," said Richardson. "It came down to Missouri and Miami before. Missouri had a rough season the year I was supposed to be there.
"They ended up 8-4 or 8-5 and lost a bowl game to Navy. That rocky start made me wonder if it was a good fit. Then I started looking at the players they sent to the NFL. I mean, USC produces even more of those players and they have more tradition.
"Missouri has a building tradition, I feel. They don't have the tradition of national championships and Heisman Trophy winners USC has. I want to see that. I feel like if you have strong traditions as a university, then I'm most definitely interested."
November 11, 2010--USCFootball.com reports Richardson has committed to USC during an official visit. He later confirms with PowerMizzou.com:
"My father wants me to make my own decisions. He told me I better be 100% sure. I said, 'Pops, you know I'm sure because I just decommitted from a school I've been committed to for about six years. I'm not playing."
However, Richardson also says he would like to visit California, Miami and Arizona State.
December 15, 2010--While never officially re-committing to Mizzou, Richardson signs an LOI with the Tigers…the second time he has done so.
"I just can't wait to get there," Richardson said after signing. "Being in juco really humbled me. I appreciate stuff a lot more. Things aren't going to be given to you.
Mizzou is the best place for me."
Spring 2011--Rumors continue to swirl about Richardson's academic situation. He has left COS and returned to St. Louis, going undercover.
June 2011--Incoming freshmen and returning players report to Columbia for summer conditioning. Richardson is MIA.
August 3, 2011--Richardson reports to Columbia with the rest of the 2011 class and is listed in the Mizzou student database.
August 4, 2011--Missouri holds its first practice with no Richardson. Gary Pinkel says he expects to have Richardson "hopefully pretty soon."
August 10, 2011--A full six days into fall camp, PowerMizzou.com is told by sources and confirms with University officials that Richardson has been cleared to play.
August 11, 2011--Richardson will suit up for his first practice as a Tiger. It will come exactly 1,552 days after he originally committed.
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