PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers secondary coach Carnell Lake recruited cornerback Shaquille Richardson to UCLA when the player was coming out of Los Alamitos High School in 2010.
So, when Richardson -- who transferred to Arizona after Lake left his alma mater -- was available when the Steelers were up in the fifth round Saturday afternoon during the NFL Draft, the coach wanted to secure the player's talents once again. And they finally got a big (6-foot, 194 pounds), fast (4.5 40) cornerback when the Steelers took Richardson with the 157th overall pick.
"He was overlooked coming out of high school,'' Lake said. "And didn't have any offers, but I looked at him on tape from a camp. He was playing man-to-man coverage, so we brought him in and he was the best cover guy that we had. So, we offered him a scholarship. ... He transferred to Arizona, and here he is today. So, it's a small world, I guess.
"(And) he's really a tough competitor, 6-feet tall and just has good size. He's aggressive, good in bump-and-run coverage. He does a good job tackling and is a smart, young corner that can come in and contribute. So, he gives us good size out there and has the ability to put some pressure on tall receivers that have been drafted in the past few years.''
Richardson remembered Lake very well.
"I remember Coach Lake as being a great person first and foremost, and someone I could really look up to as a football player,'' Richardson said. "(So), I'm happy to be back under him, learn from him and be a Pittsburgh Steeler. It's crazy. I had a feeling that they were interested, but you never know.
"(And) I'm definitely aware (of the Steelers cornerback situation), but I'm definitely coming in to learn from Ike Taylor and the other veteran defensive backs they have on the team. I'm just ready to work. I've got a lot to prove, and I'm ready to work.''
Lake added that Richardson played both corner and safety at Arizona, because he's a "bigger DB with ball skills that can tackle in the open field.'' So, he could play inside if he had to, but he likely won't have to do it with the Steelers. Still, Lake believed that the bigger Richardson, in the mix with the veterans and recent free-agent signings Antwon Blake and Brice McCain, gives the Steelers a solid cornerback group.
"We've been fortunate in that we've picked up some players as free agents -- Antwon Blake is one -- really fast and aggressive corner that I liked coming out last year,'' Lake said. "We were fortunate to grab him in free agency, and he's been productive for us last year. (And) Brice McCain, who I've had a chance to see on the field the past couple weeks.
"I'm really impressed with the way he moves. These guys are just getting started. They have the ability to cover and stay close to receivers. They might have been overlooked in their past, so I'm very excited about Shaquille, because he's in that situation, too. And with Shaquille Richardson being a taller corner, he'll be necessary with the receivers that we've had come into the AFC.''