Nighthawk Damani Richardson was honored by friends, family, teammates and coaches Tuesday at a campus signing ceremony, where he accepted a scholarship to play football for Pacific University of Oregon.
“It’s always been my dream to play college sports and I’m blessed with the opportunity to do so,” said Damani, who thanked God, his parents, coaches, trainers and others for helping him reach that goal. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you.”
Damani also has been a standout academically, earning a grade point average of about 3.5. He hopes to become a sports psychologist or physical therapist after getting his college degree.
As a receiver, Damani helped lead the Nighthawk football team to a winning record this year and its first playoff appearance in three years. He caught 31 passes for 592 yards and eight touchdowns, according to MaxPreps news service.
Damani also was exceptional in baseball and basketball at Natomas High. On the diamond, he hammered out a .418 batting average with 27 runs, 12 RBIs and 19 stolen bases over the past two years, MaxPreps data showed.
In basketball, the most recent statistics listed for Damani on MaxPreps were from his sophomore year, 2015-16, when he averaged 12.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and three steals per game for the Nighthawk varsity.
Asked Tuesday (May 15) to describe how it feels to accomplish his dream, Damani smiled. “I’m just so happy,” he said. “It’s all over but it’s not over – it’s just a new chapter in my life and I’m ready to start.”
Damani, who is listed as 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds by MaxPreps, said he expects to play receiver in college football. He also plans to try out for Pacific University’s baseball team, hoping to play center field.
Coaches at Tuesday’s signing ceremony described Damani as hard-working, intelligent, talkative, confident and competitive.
“He has a lot of heart,” said Ben Glidewell, Nighthawk baseball coach. “He takes that intelligence, he takes that want and drive, and he follows up and makes sure he accomplishes all the work he needs to accomplish.”
Damani’s father, Demar, said he’s happy for Damani but a little sad, personally, to see the teen leave town for Oregon.
“I’m happy, but at the same time I’m sad because I’ve only got a couple more months with him, during the summer months,” Demar Richardson said.
From the time Damani began playing sports, probably in 5th or 6th grade, he’s worked hard, hustled hard, and he’s always been a good student, his father said. “”So I’m very happy that it turned out like this.”