Posted: 9:06 pm Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
By Post Staff
What a day it was at Pahokee as Nu’Keese Richardson shocked everyone by choosing Tennessee over Florida. He didn’t tell his family until this morning and coach Blaze Thompson found out when everyone else did.
I got to Pahokee early hoping to squeeze it out of someone what Nu’Keese was going to do but Thompson had no idea.
They had a long table set up on the stage of the auditorium with five seats and five hats, one for each of the schools that the signees were signing with today. At Nu’Keese’s seat was the Florida hat. Someone asked Thompson where the Tennessee hat was and he said Nu’Keese had it with him. That was my big clue he was leaning in that direction.
Then the time came for him to make his announcement and there, of course, was the dramatic pause before he announced he was going to Tennessee. He picked up the Florida hat before putting on the Tennessee hat.
It was funny because the crowd started to cheer when he had the Florida hat and when he put on the other, it was like they were witnessing a magic trick gone horribly wrong. There were gasps and silence before they faded back into cheers. Definitely one of the more bizarre reactions I’ve seen from a crowd.
No one came out and said anything about playing time being a factor but Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin said in his press conference today that the Vols are just trying to get the best players they can regardless of position so it’s probably not a stretch to think they promised him immediate playing time.
Thompson said he believed Richardson would have played wherever he went but a promise of playing time at a monstrous program like Florida is probably as solid as, well, a verbal commitment.
On a side note, former Pahokee head coach Don Thompson was in attendance for the ceremony. He walked in and I immediately noticed all of the state title rings he was sporting. I’ve never seen a man wearing so many rings. I was talking to assistant principal Mike Aronson and asked, “He doesn’t wear those all the time, right? He’s just wearing them today for the occasion?” Nope. He wears them all the time. How great is that?
Aronson said they were being fitted recently for the latest state ring and Thompson asked if Aronson wanted to get this one, his fourth, fitted for a different finger so he too could wear his all the time. Aronson politely declined. Gotta love that Pahokee style.