The Stanford football team concluded spring practice Saturday afternoon with a crisp and spirited showing in the Cardinal and White Spring Game before an overflow crowd at sun-splashed Cagan Stadium.
Rising-junior quarterback Jack Richardson, a walk-on from Palma-Salinas, engineered three long scoring drives to spark the offense (Cardinal) to a 24-16 victory against the defense (White). The only healthy signal caller on the roster all spring, the composed Richardson completed 21 of 30 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
Treyjohn Butler /Stanford Athletics
"Jack Richardson is the most improved player on the team," said Stanford coach David Shaw. "From where he was when he walked on campus to now, he's bigger, he's stronger, he's more athletic, his arm is stronger, and he's got a great understanding of the offense. We feel like Jack can go in a game and help us out if we need him to."
Richardson's father, Kevin, was a starting linebacker at Stanford, and his mother, Teresa (Smith), starred in volleyball on The Farm. Both were on hand Saturday when their son learned about his scholarship.
"It means a lot," Jack Richardson said. "Being a walk-on really makes me appreciate the grind of sports and what my parents have sacrificed. It's what I worked for."
Not surprisingly, Richardson's teammates were thrilled for him.
"It's almost unexplainable," said wide receiver Conor Wedington. "Jack has been balling since Day 1. He came out here with confidence and performance all spring. I'm just so happy for him."
Added running back Cameron Scarlett, "When he knew he was the only quarterback, I knew he was going to do a great job. I knew he was going to take it personally that he needed to take the offense to a standard and that's exactly what he did."
Richardson tossed short scoring tosses to Wedington and fullback Houston Heimuli. The latter made a nifty, one-handed, 5-yard touchdown grab and ran 13 times for 44 yards. Wedington had five receptions for 68 yards.
Scarlett churned for a game-high 111 yards on 18 carries, including a pretty 19-yard scoring scamper around left end.
Defensively, the Cardinal held its own up front and received jarring hits from Ben Edwards, Bo Peek, Andrew Pryts and Jovan Swann. Cornerback Treyjohn Butler also made a nice open field tackle.
"I loved how physical it was," Shaw said. "We had to modify practices because of injuries. But I told the team yesterday, we want to reach a level we haven't reached all spring. I saw that today. There were a lot of pads popping. It felt like Stanford football."
Scarlett was pleased with the progress made by the Cardinal and himself.
"I felt like we took some good steps as a team," he said. "I felt like I grew as a player in the run game and the pass game, understanding the blitzes and the protection. I'm just excited to keep moving forward."
Likewise for Wedington.
"We came out every practice looking to get better," he said. "We're all trying to help each other. I try to model myself after JJ (Arcega-Whiteside) and Trent (Irwin). They're great leaders and I really look up to them."
Wedington made many contributions to the offense as a true freshman and looks to become even more involved.
"Any time coach wants to give me the ball, I'm never going to complain about that," said Wedington. "Any role he gives me I will try to do to the best of my ability."
Extra Points … The game was televised live by the Pac-12 Network, with former Stanford standout wide receiver Evan Moore serving as analyst … At halftime, Shaw received the Bobby Dodd Award as national coach of the year, and earned a rousing ovation from the fans … Many former Cardinal players were in attendance, including current NFL performers Joshua Garnett, Michael Thomas, James Vaughters and Brennan Scarlett … Players report for fall training camp on Aug. 1 … Stanford begins the 2018 season by hosting San Diego State on Aug. 31.