Back in January, Tennessee offensive lineman Drew Richmond entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal. Over three months later, he’s finally announced where he’ll be playing his final year of college football.
In a letter on The Players’ Tribune that he read to middle school students he was mentoring at the Emerald Academy in Knoxville, Richmond made his transfer destination public. The three-year starter for Tennessee will spend his final year of college eligibility at USC.
Richmond started all 12 games for the Vols this past season, playing at right tackle for all 12 games. He was the only UT offensive lineman to start every game at the same position in 2018. In his career at Tennessee, he accumulated 25 starts in 28 total games.
Richmond later took to Twitter to announce his transfer to USC as well:
— Drew Richmond (@TheDream_75) April 26, 2019
In his letter on The Players’ Tribune, Richmond highlights his decision to leave Tennessee and play for the Trojans, discussing the hardships and obstacles he’s overcome in his career thus far.
“I can recall being promised that I’d start my freshman year,” Richmond said. “When that didn’t happen, I felt consumed by anger and frustration. Every game, win or lose, I’d check Twitter hoping for validation, but a lot of the time I just internalized negativity instead. For my first few years at Tennessee, I was always searching for approval that didn’t come from myself but from the outside. If football wasn’t going well — if I didn’t have that — I didn’t know what else I had.”
Richmond goes on to say that volunteering and mentoring students at the Emerald Academy helped him find a purpose outside of football, and because of that he ended up finding who he really was.
“Becoming a mentor here and being part of y’all’s lives has been the highlight of my college career,” Richmond explained. “Whether it was spending time coaching a few of y’all, making jokes or just talking through ideas and challenges, I made connections here that really impacted me.”
The 6-foot-5, 316-pound lineman came to Tennessee as a borderline five-star prospect in the Vols’ 2015 signing class. Richmond was a consensus top-100 overall player and was considered a top-25 overall player by several outlets. He played for Memphis University School and made headlines when he chose Tennessee over Ole Miss on National Signing Day.
Richmond had high expectations when he came to UT, but he never really lived up to the hype. He redshirted during his freshman year in 2015, and he played in nine games and started six in his second year on campus in 2016. As a redshirt sophomore in 2017, Richmond only started seven games and missed time due to injuries. He was also suspended for the Vols’ season opener against Georgia Tech.
Butch Jones brought Richmond in to play left tackle, but he didn’t perform well at that position in his first two years of playing there in 2016 and 2017. Jeremy Pruitt and Will Friend convinced Richmond to move to right tackle in 2018, and he showed improvement overall there, though he still had issues with false starts and consistent play.
Now, Richmond will look to close this chapter of his life and open a new one.
“This next step in my journey will help me find another piece of the puzzle — and to keep fulfilling my ultimate purpose,” Richmond said. “Next year, I will earn my masters degree in social entrepreneurship and play football at the University of Southern California.”