Posted: 2:41 pm Friday, May 30th, 2008

Pahokee’s Richardson picks Florida Gators 

By Jason Lieser

Nu’Keese Richardson did everything he could to keep his college choice a secret until Friday afternoon’s press conference at Pahokee High School.

The mystery is revealed: Richardson will be a Florida Gator.

Richardson, rated as a four-star recruit by and, announced his verbal commitment to play for Florida, and will attempt to enroll in time for 2009 spring practices. He said he currently is on track to graduate Pahokee after next semester.

He is 5-foot-10 1/2, 170 pounds, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds and bench presses 205 pounds.

Last week Richardson said he was leaning toward South Carolina, and he has worn Gamecocks shorts throughout spring practices, but Florida appeared to be gaining momentum as his commitment day approached. He said UF recruited him as a multi-threat player who could potentially succeed Percy Harvin. Harvin will be a senior by the time Richardson hits college.

Those two schools were ahead of three other finalists: Georgia, USC and Michigan. He never visited those three campuses, though he made multiple trips to Florida and South Carolina.

Richardson grew hoping to play for Miami, but ruled out the Hurricanes after they imported several receivers from the class of 2008. His nickname “Pete” comes from boyhood hero Peter Warrick, a former Florida State star, but a source close to Richardson said the Seminoles never asserted themselves in the hunt.

He also said no to any program that suggested playing him at defensive back.

Richardson was the Blue Devils’ No. 3 wide receiver in 2007, behind seniors Martavious Odoms (now at Michigan) and Antavious Wilson (Buffalo). In a limited role, Richardson had 26 catches for 452 yards and six touchdowns.

This year he will start the season at quarterback, though Blue Devils coach Blaze Thompson admitted he was the last resort. Thompson hopes to develop another quarterback as soon as possible so he can move Richardson to receiver.

His passing ability is improving, but he will represent a sharp turn from pocket passer Anthony Sheppard, who went 28-0 with two state championships as Pahokee’s quarterback the last two years. Sheppard signed with Western Kentucky in February.

Richardson’s speed on the ground means he is more likely to resemble former Blue Devils’ quarterbacks Alphonso Smith and Anquan Boldin. Wake Forest moved Smith to cornerback, and Boldin starred as a receiver for Florida State before the Arizona Cardinals drafted him in 2003.

Richardson joins Glades Central center Henry Orelus (LSU) and Fort Pierce Westwood defensive tackle Luther Robinson (Miami) as the area’s top early commitments.

Richardson’s commitment should increase the attention on several other seniors who might commit early, including Okeechobee running back Lonnie Pryor (deciding between LSU and FSU), Palm Beach Central linebacker Jon Bostic (multiple BCS offers) and Glades Central wide receiver Rantavious Wooten (multiple BCS offers).

Next up for Pahokee will likely be running back Vincent Smith. Smith has drawn interest from Tennessee, Michigan and Minnesota, but might wait until the end of the season to see if more schools enter the race.