MADISON - In a state with so many talented players, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School linebacker Richard Yeargin III has started to set himself apart from the rest on the defensive side of the ball.
After finishing his junior season with 60 tackles (21 for loss), 13 sacks and three forced fumbles at Chaminade-Madonna Prep, Yeargin is starting to transition from being a purely physical football player to the all-important mental side of mastering his position.
"I want to become a student of the game now and realize that not only do I have to perform well on the field, I have to perform well in the classroom by studying film," Yeargin told Badger Nation. "I really have to analyze what I am doing. I need to be a critic and see the little things I need to tweak."
Used to seeing the double teams this past season, Yeargin (6-1, 225 pounds) has learned by watching film how to improve his hand placement to better handle extra blockers and taking better angles coming off the line of scrimmage.
"Those are little things that can take my game to a whole other level," said Yeargin, who played last season around 200 pounds. "You think you have so much talent and so much ability that you don't have to study film, but it really boils down to studying film and lifting hard than you usually lift to get that explosiveness."
Even with a raw skill set, college coaching staffs have already been impressed. Getting scholarship offers since last summer, Yeargin calls the process ‘humbling' as he sits at 13 offers – Boston College, Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech, Purdue, Rutgers, USF, Tennessee, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Yeargin says Clemson, Florida, Tennessee and UCLA have been in contact the most. The Badgers used to be on that list, giving Yeargin one of his first scholarship offers, but Yeargin currently doesn't have UW ranked high on his board.
"It's been very different. I haven't heard from them," said Yeargin. "I won't say I don't like it, but I won't say that I do."
Recruiting by then-defensive line coach Charlie Partridge at Wisconsin, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Arkansas has now entered the picture for Yeargin and could be on the verge of offering.
"I am going to carry my love for Wisconsin over to Arkansas," said Yeargin. "It's a SEC school, which is where I envision myself playing along with the ACC. That's weighing on my decision. When you recruit a guy you recruit a guy and when you tell him you want him, you want him. The message from Coach Partridge hasn't changed."
Wanting to be able to focus on his senior season at his new program, Yeargin said he will either commit before the start of camp or after the season, possibly waiting as late as national signing day. He also said a silent commitment isn't out of the question either.
"At times you think you have reached your peak, but at those times you have to stick to the basics," said Yeargin. "My speed and my strength are going to help me in college. The weight lifting program at University School is phenomenal."