HUNTINGTON - New Marshall University wide receiver Tavin Richardson has made quite the impact in his first few weeks with the program since joining as a graduate transfer from Kentucky.
And while his 6-foot-3, 213-pound frame and ability to catch in space have plenty to do with that immediate notice, wide receivers coach Dallas Baker said the physical aspects that Richardson brings are a small part of what has made him a special addition to the 2019 Marshall receiver corps.
"It's not that he's a big body and he make catches," Baker said of Richardson. "He's an older guy who comes from the SEC and has been around NFL guys and was highly recruited in high school, and he allows me to coach him hard. The rest of the guys see that and everyone else falls in line and now, we have that standard set that everyone is to live up to."
Baker, a former All-SEC receiver in his own right at Florida, said that such a dynamic within a receivers room is special because it shows that guys are willing to leave egos at the door, an aspect that isn't always present within the sport.
"All those guys expect greatness," Baker said. "If you're a receiver, you think you're just as good as Antonio Brown. You can have zero catches in your career and anyone asks you, you'd say, 'I could do the same thing he's doing if coach gives me that shot.' That's just how we're made."
Richardson is one of two graduate transfer receivers that Marshall has in 2019, the other being Joey Fields, and Baker said that the key to success within the room is the relationships that are built outside of the game. Baker routinely has his guys together for dinner or bowling night, so that the chemistry stays strong and the players build those bonds that carry over to practice and the film room as preparation gets underway.
"It starts with what a lot of people think is magic and it's definitely not. I build relationships with my guys," Baker said. "When you build a relationship with a guy, it is easier to coach them."
From a personal standpoint, Richardson said that he and Baker built a bond in a rather unusual way - an instance that dealt with their former programs.
Richardson played for Kentucky's 2018 team that broke a 31-year losing streak to Florida, which is Baker's alma mater. The Wildcats defeated the No. 25 Gators, 27-16, in front of a stunned crowd at "The Swamp" in Gainesville.
Baker is known to do his share of trash-talk in fun with his players, so Richardson made sure to let his position coach know about that win, one of the bigger in Kentucky's history.
"We are always bringing up the Kentucky-Florida game," Richardson said with a smile. "Just (Saturday), I sent him a picture of the fans and how shocked they were after the loss."
It might seem like a small conversation, but those moments are big in the team-bonding scheme, Richardson said.
"The start has been great and the players are buying into a new guy like me," Richardson said. "It's another brotherhood with the receivers on this team and the coaches, as well.
I'm just trying to be an experienced guy that comes in and helps win a conference championship. That's the goal that we focused on right now. We are going to take every game one step at a time."
Richardson credited the returning receivers for helping him get to know the playbook and also letting him know Baker's expectations, as well as those from offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey, which has accelerated his learning curve.
Richardson comes to Marshall with 39 games of experience, 25 in a starting role at Kentucky. In his three years on the field for the Wildcats, Richardson caught 49 passes for 645 yards with one touchdown.