The choice came down to a prestigious California school, known not only for its football program but also its scholastics, or a school he was a fan of for years. In the end, Steven Richards chose BYU over Stanford to continue his football career.
Richards, son of Matthew and Kirsten Richards of Sandy, made his choice along with five other Alta High School teammates on National Signing Day, Feb. 1. Also accepting scholarship offers that day were Austin Lee (Utah), Rhett Sandlin (BYU), Shad Ennis (Southern Utah), Kole Afu (Southern Utah) and Chad Trip (Dixie State).
“We had a very talented group of seniors this year,” Alta head coach Bob Stephens said. “It shows in that six signed for scholarships and should do well in the various schools they will attend.”
Richards grew up as a fan of BYU. He always dreamed of playing for them, and began making a name for himself as a tight end at Alta.
“He is one of the best tight ends we have had at Alta in a long time,” Stephens said. “He is fast and strong. He was always a hard worker for us and it showed each game day.”
Although a Cougar fan since he was a child, Richards’ talents at tight end provided him with more collegiate options.
“It began hitting me in the face as a junior when several colleges were interested in me,” he said. “I kind of opened up my options to see what was out there. I always had BYU in my back pocket because I knew I would love it there, no matter what.”
After weeding out both UCLA and Utah State, Richards sat down and talked with his parents about both BYU and Stanford. It helped him realize his first choice was the correct choice, and he will join the Cougars after serving a full-time LDS mission.
But he will move to the other side of the ball and become a defensive end.
“That’s where they need me the most,” he said. “I am totally comfortable with the position as it uses the same kind of speed, footwork, intensity and hand contact as tight end.”
Defensive players seemed to draw most of the interest in Alta players this year. Defensive backs and defensive linemen stood out for the Hawks in scholarship offers.
“They all kind of fit the same mold in that they are strong and athletic,” Stephens said. “We only allowed 2.7 yards per carry against us this year.”
Lee leads the group with a scholarship to Utah, where he will continue as a defensive back.
“Utah has always been my favorite school,” he said. “I considered other offers, but I grew very close to the coaching staff at Utah. Their history and their jump to the Pac-12 helped make it a simple choice.”
“He is one of the best defensive backs I have seen in the state,” Stephens said. “Several schools respected him enough to where they wouldn’t throw the ball his direction. He will be a great asset to the U.”
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company