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Nov 23, 2018

AGAINST THE GRAIN

By: WYATT STREETT

Note: The following appears in the South Carolina gameday football program


For some people, the college they choose to attend can be a no-brainer, especially when their family already has a major connection to that university.

For tight end Milan Richard, his family had that strong connection, except it was to Georgia. Both of Richard’s parents were All-Americans in track in Athens, and his uncle is Herschel Walker, Georgia’s 1982 running back and Heisman Trophy winner. However, Richard was never pressured to attend Georgia.

“I was blessed with a great family, and they let me make my own decision. They told me once recruiting started, they wanted me to go where I believed it was the best fit for me, and that wound up being Clemson.”
Richard credited the offensive style of Clemson as well as the family environment for making it that “best fit” for him.

“They were throwing the ball around, and that’s what I did in high school, so I believed the offense fit me. Coach (Chad) Morris was here at the time, so he and coach (Jeff) Scott were my recruiters, along with coach (Danny) Pearman. I’m an only child, so the family atmosphere and culture was something that I was drawn to.”

Richard has made himself at home in Tigertown. Along with the family atmosphere, his favorite part of being a Tiger is the relationships he has built. Another great relationship he shares is with his uncle, Walker. For Richard, he is not the great football hero who many would perceive him as, rather, he is just his uncle.

“We have a great relationship. Everyone has an uncle, so he’s just like that to me. I get that question all the time, and everyone thinks it’s going to be some miraculous answer, but really, he’s just a regular uncle.

“He’s at all the family stuff…all the Thanksgivings, all the Christmases and everything like that. We talk a few times a month, but never about football. He doesn’t really talk about football a lot. He lets me bring that up because he doesn’t want to be that uncle who is always talking about football. We have a great relationship. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Walker has also taken a back seat when it comes to Richard’s football career. While still being an influence, Walker has been careful to not force the game on Richard, who is thankful for Walker’s support and experience.

“He’s let me be my own man, and I’m thankful for because I don’t know if I would love the game as much if it was pushed on me. That’s what everyone thinks…that my family pushed the game on me and pushed Georgia on me. That’s not how it was.

“He’s been a blessing because he’s someone who I can go to talk about things that might be going on, whether it’s locker room stuff or something like that, so he is a person who I can talk to who’s been through it and knows from experience.”

Though Walker has not been overbearing with Richard’s career, he has still learned some valuable lessons from Walker, particularly about leadership and work ethic. Richard has also been thankful to have Walker and the rest of his family be so supportive of him throughout his entire career.

“I’m really supported by my whole family. As an only child, my parents are at everything, so my family support is great. I love that whole aspect of it, and I’m really glad they jumped on board when I said I wanted to be a Clemson Tiger.”

Richard has truly embodied what it means to be a Tiger, working extensively with P.A.W. Journey, the Clemson football program that focuses on developing student-athletes off the field. Richard is an ambassador with the program, serving with 30 teammates to discuss events, professional development and leadership of the entire team.

He is also involved with the 5th Quarter sector of the program, which focuses on internships and careers, as well as C.U. in Life, which focuses on community outreach and life skills. Richard was named the 2018 P.A.T. Man-of-the-Year for personifying manhood through leadership, ethics, demeanor and community involvement as well.
Richard’s experiences with P.A.W. Journey have been “life changing.”

“I went to work with Adobe and Cisco Systems for my internships over the two breaks that I have, and it gave me a lot of perspective. It’s funny because we practice year-round or work out year-round or doing something football related year-round, so it’s hard for us to get that real-world job experience.

“When football is over, you’re going to have to do something. Going on those internships provided through 5th Quarter opened my eyes and showed me that I had all the transferable skills that everyone talks about. The two opportunities let me see for my own eyes that I do have the transferable skills to go into the workforce when football is over, and I can be successful.”

Richard enjoys networking and building relationships with people outside of football. He has been able to form those relationships and network heavily through his time with P.A.W. Journey, which is something he is thankful for.

Richard is trying to get the most out of his final season and “exhaust the moment.” He wants to cherish each moment, good or bad, and enjoy one last ride with his teammates.

After college, he is hoping to play in the NFL, and once his football career is over, he will enter the workforce, perhaps returning to Adobe or Cisco Systems.

Either way, he is making the most of every opportunity along the way.

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