COLLEGE PARK — The first thing Wes Brown noticed about new Maryland running backs coach Terry Richardson was that it seemed as if Richardson already knew him. Richardson wasn't trying to figure out Brown's skill set or immediately put him into something the junior running back was uncomfortable with or didn't know. Richardson, with Brown and fellow running back Brandon Ross under his watchful eye, already knew what he had.
That preparedness made a distinct impression on Brown. And as Richardson attempts to help Brown and Ross elevate a sometimes stagnant Terps running game, he's already gotten off to a fast start with his players.
"I'm hoping it builds a trust factor because with trust, you can accomplish a lot," Richardson said. "I just want them to know and understand that everything I tell them and everything we're working toward will benefit to make them the best they can be. As a coach, I've got to give them my best and in return they've got to give their best and hopefully we can produce good results."
Richardson came to College Park in February after spending two years coaching in the NFL with Jacksonville. Before that, he spent 14 years in the college ranks, including 12 under Maryland coach Randy Edsall at Connecticut.
In those 16 years as a coach, Richardson has crafted an impressive track record. Richardson helped the Jaguars finish sixth in yards per carry last fall. Under Richardson's tutelage with Miami (Fla.), Lamar Miller rushed for 1,272 yards and Duke Johnson earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors in 2012. Plus, an array of UConn running backs — Jordan Todman, Andre Dixon, Donald Brown — put up big numbers in Storrs.
For Wes Brown, though, the numbers are only a bonus. There's much more to working with Richardson that appeals to him.
"It's more of his personality," Brown said. "If he has a great personality, you're going to learn more from him."
Richardson's wealth of experience also includes a four-year career at Syracuse in which he rushed for 1,523 yards and seven touchdowns. In 1996, he appeared in one game for the Pittsburgh Steelers. All that experience helped shape how Richardson views his players and how to coach them.
"If you know what your guys got and what they can do and what their weaknesses are, you're going to be able to coach them a lot easier than getting to know them during the season," Brown said.
Edsall said that since Richardson has joined the program, he's seen the running backs block better than he ever has during his tenure. And that's just part of what Richardson wants: He wants his players to be good at everything and be well-rounded players instead of being specialists.
Brown was Maryland's short-yardage and goal-line back last season and rushed for six touchdowns but also provided a reliable target out of the backfield with 21 catches for 198 yards. Ross ran for 419 yards and worked to remedy fumble problems during the offseason. Freshman Ty Johnson is a speedster who could provide a change of pace at times this fall.
"Most of the guys I've coached, they've been able to do a lot of different things," Richardson said.
"They've been pretty versatile. That's my whole philosophy. If you can do something good, I would never say, you can do this good, let's just stick to this one thing. No, you want to develop the other parts of their game."
Maryland lost its top rusher from a year ago with the graduation of quarterback C.J. Brown. Wes Brown and Ross are locked in a competition for the starting job, and there isn't much depth behind them after offseason transfers of Albert Reid (Virginia) and Jacquille Veii (Towson).
But Richardson has already proved to his players he knows what he's working with in College Park. And he and his players know what the end goal of his instruction is.
Said Richardson: "You're always working to develop the complete back."