Dragons receiver Richter no stranger to adversity as he enters senior season amid COVID-19 pandemic
MOORHEAD — Minnesota State Moorhead senior wide receiver Jake Richter is well-versed in adversity, dealing with a broken leg and an Achilles injury during his career with the Dragons.
Richter can now add the coronavirus pandemic to the list of challenges.
“It definitely is another hurdle,” Richter said.
Richter has had his share of success between those hurdles, including more than 1,110 receiving yards during his sophomore season in 2018.
“It’s definitely been a roller coaster of emotions, just everything,” said Richter, who is from Detroit Lakes, Minn. “I’ve learned a lot of stuff, good and bad.”
Richter played in seven games last season as he returned to game action faster than expected, less than a year after suffering his Achilles injury during offseason training. He had 25 catches for 520 yards with four touchdowns last fall.
“He’s resilient,” Dragons head coach Steve Laqua said. “It’s not just to come back, but to be super effective.”
In his second year in the program, Richter broke his leg two games into the season and ended up taking a medical redshirt in 2017. The next fall is when he had 68 receptions for 1,113 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 92.8 receiving yards per game. His big year helped the Dragons to an 8-4 record and spot in the 2018 Mineral Water Bowl.
“That was a big high,” Richter said.
Richter is hoping for one more apex in his college career amid a pandemic. His ability to deal with injuries during his career have helped him deal with the ever-changing landscape due to COVID-19.
“If you’re looking too far ahead, it might look so good or you might get some thoughts in your head,” Richter said.
The Dragons football season was scheduled for 11 games and then it was reduced to 10 last May. In late July, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference further delayed the start of the football season, which has been trimmed to eight games.
“At least we have a little bit of hope left with the eight games, but all of that is kind of outside of our hands. We can’t really do anything about it,” Richter said. “We’re still staying pretty optimistic I’d say. We’re still working like we’re going to play this year.”
The Dragons returned to campus for voluntary workouts in early June. Laqua said you could tell Richter put in the work during the “quarantine” period that started in mid-March when the sports world was shut down due to COVID-19.
Laqua is able to watch Richter participate for individual skill work during voluntary workouts.
“Watching do some drill work. He looks faster, he looks more explosive,” Laqua said. “He looks like a guy who has taken his last opportunity extremely seriously. … To see him now at 100% and then improved, it would be exciting. Hopefully, we get the chance here.”
Richter is a big target at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and has been consistently produced each time he steps on the field. In 21 career games, he has 98 receptions for 1,717 yards with 14 touchdowns. He’s averaging 81.8 receiving yards per game for his career.
“The key component to him is he’s the most humble person I think I’ve maybe ever been around, the most humble player I’ve coached,” Laqua said. “He has been super successful on the field, but you would never know it in how he carries himself and how he talks with his teammates. I think that trait has been something that has allowed him to handle the ups and downs.”
Richter said he focused on eating healthier and has done his best to find creative ways to work out, especially during the earlier stages of the pandemic when there were stricter lockdowns. Despite the recent challenges, Richter thinks he’s in a good spot physically.
“I’d say right now I feel better than I felt since I came into the program,” Richter said.
Laqua said when athletes were allowed to return to campus for voluntary workouts, you could tell Ricther hadn’t been sitting idle between mid-March and June.
“It’s kind of like your 10-year class reunion,” Laqua said. “When I saw him I thought ‘wow’ he really used those weeks well.”
Richter is doing his best to stay optimistic.
“It definitely is tough,” Richter said. “It’s challenging every day to see if we are going to get back to a normal season. We’ve just got to stay the course I’ve found. It’s my last year of college football so I kind of put everything into it.”