RALEIGH, N.C. — It’s rare Nick Saban doesn’t get what he wants. The Alabama coach, who has won four national titles in the last seven years, tried and tried again to convince Ahmmon Richards to join his program.
Miami is thankful Richards wouldn’t budge.
The Wellington High grad is having one of the finest seasons of any freshman receiver nationally, and now he’s having the best of any first-year Hurricane in history.
With 117 yards on on a career-high nine catches in the Hurricanes’ 27-13 win at North Carolina State, Richards broke Michael Irvin‘s 31-year-old record for receiving yards by a freshman.
Richards, who enrolled at six months ago, was born in 1998, a year before Irvin retired from the Dallas Cowboys. Put another way: Richards is a classmate of Irvin’s son, freshman tight end Michael Irvin II.
He said he “knew there was a chance” he would set the record, but “honestly, I just wanted to win.”
After doing both, he admitted: “It means everything to me. You work so hard and you have goals set for yourself. That was one of them. I didn’t want to say it. That was one of my goals, to pass it.”
Irvin, as a redshirt freshman in 1985, recorded 840 yards on 46 catches. Richards, who broke the mark with a 10-yard grab in the third quarter, has 849 on 43.
On Saturday he was targeted 12 times. All of his nine catches went for longer than 10 yards, with a long of 18. Richards entered the day leading all FBS freshmen (fourth nationally) in yards per reception (21.53).
“You watched his high school tape and you knew he was going to be a special player,” coach Mark Richt said. “You meet him and you realize he’s a special person on top of it. Even how he handled his recruitment — he had a lot of people wanting him at the very end, he went through [Miami’s] coaching change. He just stayed true to his word. It’s blessed him. It’s blessed this program.
“I’m sure Michael Irvin will be OK with that. It’s fun to hold records. It’s also fun to see a young man do great things. For it to last 31 years is pretty spectacular.”
In recent weeks, Richards passed Reggie Wayne (640 as a true freshman in 1997), Ryan Moore (637 in 2003) and Stacy Coley (591 in 2013) and Sam Shields (501 in 2006). The rest of the top 10 includes Melvin Bratton (391 in 1984), David Njoku (362 in 2015), Lance Leggett (349 in 2004) and Roscoe Parrish (340 in 2002).
“That’s mind-blowing to me,” Richards said. “It feels good to be a part of that group.”
Richards is also now 10th on Miami’s single-season receiving list, passing Phillip Dorsett (842 in 2012). Allen Hurns (1,162 in 2013) holds the program record. Richards, who has four 100-yard games this year — and three in a row — is 313 shy, with two games to go.
“I have one more goal,” he said. He declined to say what it was.