Teurlings’ Jacob Richard opens eyes with athleticism _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Teurlings' Jacob Richard bats against Cecilia Tuesday in Lafayette.

Teurlings outfielder Jacob Richard reacted to the ball off the bat, set out on a 30-yard dead sprint to his left, jumped and fully extended to make an ESPN SportsCenter highlight-worthy grab in the Rebels’ District 5-4A opener against Cecilia.

His teammates in the dugout went crazy, pitcher Josh Taylor smiled and the fans in the stands all stood up and high-fived.

Coach Mike Thibodeaux grabbed his scorebook, looked down and simply wrote “F7,” and was ready for the next at-bat.

“Oh man, we see that kind of stuff all the time,” Thibodeaux smiled. “As soon as it left the bat, I knew it was an out.”

“That’s just what we’re supposed to do,” Richard said. “Our pitcher has to have confidence in us that we can make the plays behind him.”

This is Richard’s first-year as a full-time starter for the Rebels, and Thibodeaux said he earned his spot through his offseason workouts.

Thibodeaux said he keeps waiting for the school’s football coaches to knock on his door and ask if Richard is interested in playing for them as well.

Richard put on “around 20” pounds of muscle during offseason workouts, during which he showcased athletic ability.

“He’s just a freak,” Thibodeaux said. “And it is all good weight, too. He’s tall and lean, if you look at him from far away you wouldn’t say he was that big, but when you get close it’s a different story.”

Thibodeaux said while they haven’t measured Richard’s vertical jump, he said he thinks it is somewhere close to 40 inches.

“When he gets a big box and stacks boards on it to jump onto it, I honestly get a little scared,” Thibodeaux said. “Not for him to fall or anything, but that he’ll hit his head onto the ceiling.”

Richard has two home runs and 12 RBIs through 17 games. Five of his 13 hits went for extra bases.

Thibodeaux said Richard pairs his explosive power with elite speed, something he writes in scouting reports he sends to calling coaches.

“I’m just waiting. I fill out all these reports and stuff for colleges and the 6.4-second 60-yard dash that he ran is no fluke,” Thibodeaux said. “He can fly.”

Richard said since been a kid he’s always been quick, but the strength training has pushed him to go faster.

“(Richard) comes out here and he just runs hard and work hard everyday,” Thibodeaux said. “He just wants to play and be with his teammates.”

Richard said his work ethic is powered by the desire to make a name for himself in the program after his older brother played at Teurlings.

“I’ve always been competitive and have always wanted to strive to just get better,” Richard said. “I wanted to make a name for myself (at Teurlings) not just be known as the younger brother.”