WACO, Texas - There are plenty of things that make Cyril Richardson stand out, not the least of which is, well, the way he stands - tall and wide.Baylor's All-America left guard is 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds.Oddly enough, though, size is sometimes not the first thing people notice about Richardson. He hasn't cut his dreadlocked hair in six years."I hate getting haircuts. I always have hated it,'' Richardson said. "And so when my dad finally allowed me to grow my hair out I just did it. And I've always loved it.''
It certainly makes Richardson noticeable. In the world of offensive linemen, his size isn't actually all that rare. In fact, West Virginia's player at the same position, Quinton Spain, is 6-5 and 335.But the hair that hangs out of the back of Richardson's helmet is hard to miss.It did take some getting used to, though."The first year of having dreads is always the roughest,'' Richardson said. "You just look weird, like you've got little things popping out of your head. It wasn't until they started growing that they actually started looking like hair. And that's when people start noticing.''Again, though, the hair is just cosmetic. Richardson could wear it any way he wants and at any length and he would still be a hot commodity as an offensive lineman. He's been on the All-Big 12 team the last two years, was a second-team All-America last season and will be a first-round pick in next spring's NFL draft.Not bad for a guy who used to be more into video games than football games."My older brother, Jeremy, he says I just came out of my room one time and I was like 6-3, 6-4,'' Richardson said. "He was like, 'Where'd you come from? When did you get so big?' He used to say I always just stayed in my room all the time and watch TV and play video games. And when I walked out one day he said, 'Yep, he's got to start playing football.' ''Many happy returns?West Virginia's special teams have been anything but special this season, at least in the area of returns.The punts have been great, the field goals fine (save for twice when Josh Lambert was asked to kick from over 50 yards) and no one has really returned any kicks for big yardage. But 10 punt returns have netted just 40 yards, there have been two fumbled away and two more caught inside the 5-yard line.Coach Dana Holgorsen, though, can actually live with that because he's seen potential. He's used three different punt returners and all have their flaws, but he sees enough in them to be convinced they will improve.
Kickoff returns are another story. Holgorsen calls his kickoff returners "garbage.''So this week he will go with at least one new one, true freshman cornerback Daryl Worley. The other deep man on the kickoff returns will also be a true freshman, Wendell Smallwood, who has been back there before."Kickoff return is 100 percent timing,'' Holgorsen said, referring to not just catching and running with it, but working within the scheme and with the blocks. "We have yet to find guys who can catch it and run, but we will.''BrieflyWhen West Virginia and Baylor played last season, WVU's 70-63 win in Morgantown snapped a nine-game winning streak for the Bears that dated back to the previous season. Baylor has a seven-game winning streak coming into tonight's game.Baylor coach Art Briles on this week's spate of head-coach firings (Lane Kiffin, Paul Pasqualoni): "It just makes me thankful every day when I walk into an office and there's a chair there," Briles said.
Tonight's game is part of the farewell to Floyd Casey Stadium at Baylor, which will be replaced by a state-of-the-art riverfront venue next season. "They've improved a lot of their facilities. What it is now and what it was six years ago is night and day,'' Holgorsen said. "And two years from now when we go back they'll have a brand new stadium, as well. You'll see the one that they have and ask, 'What's wrong with it?' ''West Virginia's first open date is next weekend. The Mountaineers next play Texas Tech at home Oct. 19. The team's other open date is in late November, prior to the season finale against Iowa State.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.