Aug. 29, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- After five injury-filled seasons, offensive lineman Dace Richardson wondered if he made enough of an impact to someday be asked back as honorary captain for the University of Iowa football team.
Richardson is the first Hawkeye honorary captain of the 2014 season; he addressed the Iowa team following walk-through Friday in the Indoor Football Practice Facility. Iowa hosts Northern Iowa on Aug. 30 with kickoff scheduled for 11:01 a.m. (CT).
Richardson thrived on proving others wrong, and he did so time and time again while in college from 2005-09. After missing the entire 2008 season because of injury, Richardson defied the odds by starting the first eight games in 2009 -- all Hawkeye victories. He went down again in the eighth game at Michigan State and missed the final four regular season contests. He was down, but not completely out.
Despite playing just four conference games, Richardson was named first-team All-Big Ten by league coaches in 2009.
"That tells you about the level of football he was playing," UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said.
"The respect I got from players and coaches made it worthwhile. A lot of people -- the media, even some of the coaches -- believed that I wasn't going to come back from this injury. The fact I proved those naysayers wrong and came back and not only came back, but came back to be All-Big Ten, shows my determination to be the best."
"The respect I got from players and coaches made it worthwhile," Richardson said of his rehabilitation. "A lot of people -- the media, even some of the coaches -- believed that I wasn't going to come back from this injury. The fact I proved those naysayers wrong and came back and not only came back, but came back to be All-Big Ten, shows my determination to be the best."
Richardson also returned for the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl and saw action at left guard as the Hawkeyes gained 403 yards of offense during a 24-14 victory against Georgia Tech.
"Words cannot speak to that game. Not only did we play in a BCS game, but we also won it," Richardson said. "For my senior class, I feel that is a great accomplishment and people will remember that we brought the first BCS Orange Bowl victory to the University of Iowa. I feel my senior legacy will always be remembered for that."
With Richardson in mind, Ferentz and the UI coaching staff created the Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2009. It is not presented annually, but there couldn't have been a more fitting first recipient.
"He faced an awful lot of adversity; not once and not twice," Ferentz said. "It was a long road, but he kept battling back."
Richardson was heavily recruited out of Wheaton, Illinois. He currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa, day-trading stocks for his uncle's company.
"I'm enjoying life, and watching the Hawkeyes from a distance," he said.
Richardson will accompany the Iowa captains to the center of the field for Saturday's pregame coin toss. He will also be with the Hawkeyes in the locker room before and after the game, and on the sidelines during the contest.