Continuing our countdown, we arrive at 82 days until kickoff. When you’re looking at jersey numbers in the 80’s, you’re mostly looking at receiving talent, and #82 is no exception. Dotting our list is a current NFL star tight end and a freshman stud wide receiver looking to take his game to new heights as a sophomore.
In high school, Greg Olsen was the rare athlete to be considered a 5-star recruit as a tight end. He had the perfect blend of size, speed, and strength, while his athleticism was unreal: Olsen averaged 16.3 points and 8.0 rebounds as a power forward on the basketball team and competed in the javelin and shot put in track at Wayne Hills HS in New Jersey.
After Olsen’s senior year of high school, he was named one of 3 finalists for the Gatorade Player of the Year award for the best prep football player in America and played in the 2003 U.S. Army All-American game before enrolling at the University of Notre Dame. It only took a few practices for Olsen to realize a career with the Dirty Irish was not for him, asking for his release from the team, and Larry Coker was more than happy to add Olsen to his 2003 signing class at Miami.
After redshirting in his first season at UM in 2003, Olsen produced 3 solid seasons of play, ending his college career with 87 catches for 1215 yards and 6 touchdowns. Those numbers didn’t tell the whole story of Olsen's abilities, however, as he was still regarded as one of the most well-rounded tight ends in the college game despite dealing with some lean years in Miami quarterbacking (*cough* Kyle Wright *cough* Kirby Freeman *cough*).
Olsen also made sure you knew where he lived during his time on campus. “G-Reg” was part of the infamous 7th Floor Crew rap group, made up of some Miami players and associates, that, you may remember, got themselves and the University into a wee-bit of hot water back in 2007.
His rap career stalling, Olsen decided to skip his final season of eligibility at Miami and enter the 2007 NFL Draft. Olsen was a 1st round draft pick (#31 overall) by the Chicago Bears, continuing a lineage of Miami tight ends to be drafted in the first round. Olsen played for the Bears for 4 years before being traded to the Carolina Panthers for a 3rd round pick in 2012.
In his time with Carolina, Olsen has developed into one of the best tight ends in the game. Establishing an unbreakable rapport with Panthers QB Cam Newton, Olsen has eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last 3 seasons for Carolina, the first tight end to ever accomplish that feat in NFL history. He helped the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015 by recording a career high 1,104 receiving yards.
Olsen is also second among active tight ends in receiving yards with 7,365, behind only Jason Witten, and was recently named the #67 player in the NFL by NFL Network, as voted on by the players.
While Olsen set a high standard to live up to, Ahmmon Richards is looking to make his impact on the #82 legacy at Miami before all is set and done.
Richards was a 4-Star recruit in the 2016 class from Wellington High School, where his speed and ball skills on the outside made him quite the deep threat and one of the top receivers in Florida, as well as the nation. Richards’ stellar high school career culminated with an invitation to play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American game in 2016. He originally committed to Al Golden’s staff, but when Golden was fired midway through the 2015 season, Richards opened up his recruitment and took long looks at Alabama and Auburn. Ultimately, Mark Richt was able to sway him back to the good guys and Richards signed with Miami on Signing Day.
Ahmmon Richards picks Miami pic.twitter.com/2U2J5nFyhA— InsideTheU.com (@InsideTheU) February 3, 2016
Richt’s hard fought recruiting battle paid immediate dividends, as Richards took the ACC by storm as a true freshman and contributed many game-breaking plays. His coming out party was on the road in a hostile environment at Appalachian State, showing composure well beyond his years in his first ever road game to accumulate 4 catches for 144 yards, including reigning in 2 deep bombs from QB Brad Kaaya.
Richards only got better as the year went on, even recording a stretch of 3 straight 100 yard games during ACC play. His most defining moment of the season, however, may have come in the Russell Athletic Bowl against West Virginia. Miami was struggling to get anything going on offense and was down 7-0 with just under 7 minutes left in the second quarter. To that point, the Canes had 31 yards of total offense and 1 first down. That’s when Richards took a quick hitch from Kaaya and...
...the rest is history. Richards’ big play sparked a previously lifeless Miami offense to 28 unanswered points and gave Miami their first bowl win since the 2006 season.
Richards ended the year with 49 catches for 934 yards and 3 touchdowns, breaking Michael Irvin’s freshman record for receiving yards at Miami. He was also a consensus Freshman All-American and named Third Team All-ACC by the coaches.
Richards had the benefit of an NFL QB throwing the ball his way last season, as well as Stacy Coley and David Njoku taking attention away from him. This season, he will carry a target on his back when teams start to gameplan for him as Miami’s clear #1 receiving option and he will have to help break in a green and inexperienced Canes QB. It will take great focus and determination to avoid a sophomore slump, but it’s clear Richards has all the tools to become an all-time legend at Miami.
Bonus: TE Carlos Etheredge only caught 5 career passes for the Canes, but was such a standout as a blocker that he was drafted in the 6th round by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1993 NFL Draft. Fun Fact: UM coach Dennis Erickson even once employed the 6’5 235 pound Etheredge at offensive tackle after some injuries to the O-Line during the 1992 season. He played 9 games in one season with the Colts, recording one catch for 6 yards, before being cut after the 1994 season. Etheredge then moved on to NFL Europe and played 2 seasons with the Amsterdam Admirals, eventually retiring from football after the 1997 season.
Greg Olsen had a solid Miami career before really blowing up in the NFL, but Ahmmon Richards is already nipping at his heels stats-wise at UM, with 2-3 years still to go. Could Richards really already be the best #82 in Miami history after just one year? Make your vote known in the poll or let us know if we forgot anyone in the comments.
Which #82 is the best to play for Miami?
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