North Carolina Central’s Davius Richard wants to leave his mark on and off the field
Serving his community is a priority for MEAC’s offensive player of the year
When the Cricket Celebration Bowl kicks off Saturday, North Carolina Central quarterback Davius Richard will be at the helm of the best scoring offense in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, an achievement largely due to him.
Richard, the MEAC offensive player of the year, leads the conference in passing yards (2,486), passing touchdowns (24) and rushing touchdowns (13). His prowess helped the 9-2 Eagles clinch a share of their first MEAC championship since 2016.
While Richard is quick to emphasize how essential his teammates are to his success, he is the engine that drives the Eagles, according to head coach Trei Oliver.
“When he got here, I think he was fourth string during his freshman year. He never complained, he just always worked hard,” Oliver said. “And then when his name was called, he stepped up and led the team. And then from there, he’s just gotten better and better.
“Any great team always starts with the triggerman. And I’ve never seen a really good team that didn’t have a really good quarterback. So when you get a good quarterback, you have a chance to be really good. So, I’m so pleased about the direction he’s led his team and he’s done it both on and off the field. He leads by example.”
By the end of his first two seasons with the Eagles, Richard ranked eighth on North Carolina Central’s all-time passing list and seventh in career total offense. He credits offensive coordinator Matt Leone and strength and conditioning coach Thomas “T.C.” Carroll for helping him hone his skills during the offseason.
“Coming into January, I sat down with the offensive coordinator Matt Leone and talked about my strengths and weaknesses from the past season,” Richard said. “During spring we really tuned into those areas, mechanically and mentally, to fix up and improve my game. Over the summer, [my focus was on] just coming out and getting better with T.C., as well as spending extra time with my receivers and getting timing down … on how they like to run routes, when to expect them to be open.”
Intense summer workouts helped Richard deepen his chemistry with Eagles receivers such as senior E.J. Hicks, who has been a teammate since 2019. Hicks called the sessions “killer” but key to the team’s success.
“T.C. had us out there dying,” Hicks said. “But it’s what we needed, though. It got us to where we are now. All them hard hours and early mornings are paying off.”
Hicks also praised Richard’s efforts to connect with teammates off the field, talking on the sidelines after practice and listening to music by Florida rapper Kodak Black. Those moments also contribute to the Eagles’ bond, Richard said.
“It happens every day, before and after meetings, before and after practice,” he said. “The little time that we spend that may not seem [like] too much, but it’s a lot.”
The Belle Glade, Florida, native said his desire to constantly improve stems from his roots.
“My work ethic and competitiveness come from where I’m from. … All they know down there is football,” Richard said. “So I’ve been playing football since third grade against my closest friends and just striving to be the best out of the bunch. That’s been installed [since] I was a kid, and it carried over to high school and college, with me wanting to always see myself do better.”
Richard competed in football, baseball, basketball and tennis and identifying ways the sports could overlap after one of his football coaches explained how tennis could help his performance in football.
“He was showing me how it could be beneficial with my shoulders and release, because when you serve, it kind of simulates throwing a football. On top of that, you’re very active with your feet, so it helps with agility,” Richard said.
The Academic All-District Team quarterback will graduate later this month. Besides his football accolades, Richard wants to be remembered as a positive influence on the next generation.
“It ties into my testimony – I was able to do my dues here and graduate in 3½ years,” he said. “It’s a bigger testament because it motivates the people back home. I have younger siblings, a cousin who’s in high school, and I have ties with some of the other kids down there with football ties. So just being a positive role model and being something they can look up to is really a blessing.”
Over the summer, he helped host a youth football clinic with two Eagles teammates.
“Me, Devin Smith [and] Twan Flip Jr. all ran a summer camp down here. It was really a group effort,” said Richard, who initially intended to gather a small group of high school quarterbacks. “Devin was already in the motions of doing it, and Flip is such a positive guy that he was all in.”
The camp started with a small number of participants and eventually drew a larger turnout. Over time, the lessons evolved beyond the game.
“We kept it rolling all summer and got to build relationships with the kids and coaches,” he said. “Each time, we implemented life lessons, like being respectful, school, grades and showing them it’s not just about football and that there’s more than that.”
Ultimately, that’s what Richard wants his legacy to be – making a difference off the field.
“That’s what they are mainly going to remember,” he said, “but when they bring up my name I want them to say, ‘Hell of a football player, but one of the kids he mentored over the summer is at Central right now or another college. He did something other than just play football, he really put his foot in the community and made a difference even if it wasn’t big.’ ”
Cricket Celebration Bowl
When: Noon EST, Saturday.
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta.