NORFOLK, VA —Anyone who saw Davius Richard put the North Carolina Central University offense to an HBCU national title last year wouldn’t consider it a stretch to find the quarterback has a superhero alter-ego.
Standing 6’3 and 200 plus pounds in a gray suit and maroon tie while holding microphones during MEAC Media Day in Norfolk, Richard was giving off Clark Kent vibes compared to his usual Superman act in those colors on the field on Friday. But Richard prefers another superhero comparison.
“You gotta get it right, though,” Richard tells me when I make the comparison.
“It’s Bruce Wayne. I’m Batman,” I ain’t supposed to tell you that.”
Well, I hate to break it to The Dark Knight, but the secret is out.
Davius Richard had a banner season in 2022. He topped the conference in passing yards (2,661), passing touchdowns (25), and rushing touchdowns (15), while breaking NCCU single-season records for pass completions (199), pass completion percentage (64 percent), and total offense (3,449 yards).
Most importantly, he guided NC Central to the MEAC title and an epic win in the Celebration Bowl over a heavily-favored, nationally-ranked Jackson State program.
The Belle Glade, FL native said he and his teammates felt coming into last season they were on the verge of something special. It showed from the opener when they knocked off arch-rival North Carolina A&T in Bank of America Stadium, but there was a potential detour in Orangeburg, SC that could have derailed NCCU’s championship hopes.
“Coming into conference play, we faced South Carolina State and fell short. And to a lot of guys, even the outside world, that could be easy (to get discouraged) because the same thing happened the year previous,” Richard reflected. “We lost to South Carolina State, won all our other games and they still ended up in the (Celebration) bowl.”
Fortunately for Richard and his teammates, South Carolina State didn’t win another game and NCCU kept rolling, finishing 9-2 and claiming the MEAC title. But Richard said that no matter what, the bond the team had kept together even when it didn’t know that would happen.
“We already knew we messed up by losing that game, but we still got more games in front of us. We could still finish out with a good record and then we’ve got to play the cards we were dealt with. It was not in our hands,” Richard said. “We know in this conference, anything can go right as far as game-by-game, week-by-week. We just knew we put our best foot forward. If the cards do fall in our favor. We’d be ready.”
NCCU proved itself to be ready as Richard willed the team to victory in a high-scoring game that went into overtime. The underdogs had become the HBCU national champions, and Richard elevated his name heading into his senior season and the 2024 NFL Draft.
He’s got the size, and he definitely has the mobility to make it to the next level. This season he is looking to make sure he covers all the bases as he hopes to become the first HBCU quarterback to be drafted since 2007.
Richard was held out of the fourth quarter of several games last season to preserve his body and get his backups reps. But with his draft stock and awards being so stat driven, don’t expect that to happen as much in 2023. His coach, Trei Oliver, doesn’t anticipate that being the case quite as much.
“I want to see him play better this season than he played last year,” Oliver said. “He’s a great leader, he’s a great young man. We’re just going to take it one game at a time and let him continue to get it done.”
Richard said he has been studying the film and said he sees lots of room for improvement.
“If you run back the film — me and my coach ran it back — I was supposed to have 3,000 yards. It’s just the fact that I, myself, wasn’t as good as I needed to be to get that 3,000 yards as far as missed open throws and stuff like that. So at that point, I had to come to myself, look myself in the mirror as a man and as a person and be like, who’s fault was it you didn’t get 3000 yards?”
So, yes, the Dark Knight of the MEAC feels like he hasn’t hit his ceiling just yet. Defensive coordinators beware.
“I have just been working this whole offseason trying to make sure whenever that time comes and the open throws are there, or contested, tight window throws — that I’m able to make it.”
If that happens, Davius Richard may have a butler named Alfred one of these days.