St. Louisan Sheldon Richardson has proven not only to be an outstanding young defensive lineman in the National Football League, but a bit of a prophet as well.
Late in his rookie season, the former Gateway Tech and University of Missouri star told anyone who would listen that he should be the choice for the league's Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Richardson's prophecy turned into reality last Saturday night when he received the award at the NFL Awards Show.
Richardson received 23 votes to win the award, edging out Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso, who received 19 votes. New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro finished third with four votes.
During his acceptance speech, Richardson thanked Jets coach Rex Ryan for allowing him to be himself, on and off the field. As well as being a top young defensive player, Richardson is also one of the league's best quotes. He also thanked the Jets organization for drafting him in the first round. Richardson also gave a shout-out to his home town of St. Louis.
The 6'3” 294-pound Richardson was the No. 13 selection in the first round by the Jets in last spring's NFL Draft. He stepped in and immediately became a high-impact performer in the Jets' 3-4 defense.
"He had a tremendous year," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. "I think he has a great future here."
For the season, Richardson played in all 16 games and had 15 starts. He recorded 41 solo tackles and a total of 78. He had 3.5 quarterback sacks and had eight tackles for losses. He also emerged as one of the league's top young run-stoppers.
Richardson also got a chance to play some offense for the Jets at fullback. He scored two touchdowns during the season. During his prep career at Gateway Tech, Richardson was also a tight end and kick return specialist as well as being an All-American defensive lineman.
Richardson went on to the University of Missouri, where he was an All-Southeastern Conference First Team selection on defense in 2013.