October 27, 2010
Milan Richards' name doesn't give away his famous football pedigree. It's the freshman's game that makes it clear Richards has football in his blood.
According to the Savannah Morning News, the famous relative who provided Richards' primo genes is none other than Hershel Walker, the Heisman Trophy winner and University of Georgia legend who now owns and runs a D1 fitness club in Savannah and fights on the Strikeforce MMA circuit. Richards, who is playing for both the varsity and junior varsity squads at Calvary (Ga.) Day School, stands out among Georgia freshmen, largely because of his well-tuned, 6-foot-3, 200-pound physique.
With that body, Richards has become a target as a tight end and defensive end with the athleticism to make an instant impact in any collegiate program. Yet before Richards gets closer to a collegiate future, Richards has a lot of football to play at the high school level. That's precisely where his parents and famous uncle want his focus, and the teen is happy to oblige.
"We're a very close family, and what most people don't get is just because someone is famous you don't treat them different if they are your family," Richard told the Savannah Morning News. "When you boil it down, [Walker] is still my uncle."
For his part, Walker is already excited about the first relative in his family to show the same athletic prowess that set him apart throughout his career.
"Milan is probably the first of my nephews to show this much potential," Walker told the Savannah Morning News. "But it's not just that he's a great football player and athlete, but he's also a great student and young man as well, and you've got to give his parents credit for that. It was really exciting to see him play and see how he has grown and really matured as a young man, and you can tell if he continues he will really be something special.
"I would really like for [Milan] to go to Georgia. Other people might compare, but we don't do that. I just want [Milan] to be the best he can be, and as I have said publicly, I don't want to see the best kids in Georgia go to Auburn, Clemson or Alabama."
While proclamations like that might seem to put pressure on a budding 14-year-old, Richards continues to shrug them off as part of the package that comes with being related to a football living legend. Most importantly, Richards insists that everyone at his school knows that he's playing football for himself, not his uncle, and he'll continue to do so for the rest of his high school career.
"You ask anybody at Calvary about me and they know who my uncle is, but there's not as much pressure as you would think or the outside world would think," Milan told the Morning News. "I'm my own person, and just because I'm related to [Walker] doesn't mean I'll be great. I will strive to be great, but I can't base my goals on what he did.
"We as a family kind of know the attention is coming, but attention is good if it's for good things."
While he'll be the first to acknowledge those exploits when they come, Walker intimated that his nephew now has to earn praise for himself, not just his natural athleticism.
"Milan has a great pedigree with our family and he will have all the physical tools," Walker told the Morning News. "Now it's just [a] question of how he will use them."