A number of sports fanatics grew up watching the Dallas Cowboys.
A number of them also grew up watching the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As for Ka’Dedrick Richardson?
Well, he grew up watching the Whitehaven Tigers.
As the 15-year-old Richardson is quick to acknowledge, he grew up praising the Tigers’ tradition-rich football program.
“When I was little, I wanted to go to Whitehaven,” Richardson told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I always liked Whitehaven.”
Much to the delight of Richardson, the feeling is mutual among the Tiger faithful.
That Richardson had emerged as one the area’s finest young wide receivers during a freshman season in which he enjoyed quality minutes for the Tigers, it’s safe to assume not only is he savoring his dream of playing for his childhood team, but he’s already drawing rave reviews from numerous college scouts in the process.
While Richardson did not start any games for a Whitehaven team that was destined to defend its Class 6A title, the true freshman demonstrated time and again why he was named to the Tennessee Future Stars All-Star Game in Knoxville last summer.
The 6-foot, 160-pound Richardson showed no signs of jitters for an unproven newcomer. Instead, he quickly became acclimated to the Tigers’ potent offense and flourished into a pivotal threat for a team squad that was already stacked at the wide receiver position.
Richardson, whom Whitehaven coach Rodney Saulsberry believes has arguably the best hands among his deep receiving corps, did a masterful job of complementing fellow wideouts Braylon Rochell and Kerrick Jones, a trio of fierce receivers who will likely provide fits for defensive coordinators over the next few seasons.
“Ironically, (Richardson) and Kerrick played at the same middle school (Bellevue),” Saulsberry said. “He’s a great kid academically and he shows that same competitive nature in the field. His hand coordination is extremely great for a kid his age.”
Not to mention his persona on and off the field.
According to Saulsberry, many have mistaken Richardson — who is almost certain to be considered one Shelby-Metro’s top players for the Class of 2017 — as someone who often appears cocky. But as his coach is quick to point out, it’s merely pure confident for the sport he’s come to embrace since his middle school days.
“He’s not arrogant at all,” Saulsberry said. “He’s just confident and knows he can get the job done. I like the fact that he’s like that, that he has as they say that swagger about him.”
What’s so scary, Saulsberry said, is that given Richardson is one of the Tigers’ most dangerous offensive threats, he has three years left to a high school career that is already shaping up to be a memorable one.
Especially for a team in which Richardson watched growing up, let along one for which he dreamt of playing.
“I always looked at (Whitehaven) like the big time program of Memphis as far as Memphis preps,” Richardson said. “Like when I go to White Station or Ridgeway games, it’s wasn’t as exciting to me.”
So exactly what makes Whitehaven’s football program stands out above the rest?
“It’s like the movie, Friday Night Lights,” Richardson said.
A real life movie, of sorts, in which he is currently playing a lead role.