he early reviews from anyone who has seen New York Giants offensive lineman Weston Richburg in action have glowed.
Working primarily with the second-team offensive line, the 23-year-old Richburg, drafted as a center, has also seen snaps at guard, the goal to increase his versatility and to give him an additional perspective regarding how to read defenses and execute plays through the eyes of the teammates he’ll one day direct as the team’s center.
For Richburg, who according to NFL Draft Scout was the second-best rated center in the 2014 draft, the story of how he got to this point goes beyond the countless hours he spent on a hot field playing youth football in Bushland, Texas before going on to Colorado State, where he started all 49 games of his career.
An athletic type who, per Rob Rang, was asked to pull on sweeps and screens, Richburg is a highly intelligent young man who speaks well, looks a person in the eye and who above all, is an eager student of the game who views having to learn the guard position as a challenge and not a chore.
How Richburg and his unusually high level of maturity for a man of his age came to be begins at home, where he acquired the fundamentals for success at an early age.
At 6’3”m, 298 pounds Richburg is a solid mountain of a man who plays with a mean streak on the field but who’s soft-spoken and polite off it. He gets that from his upbringing on the family farm, a large sprawling operation devoted to raising cows and pigs year-round.
From the time Richburg, the oldest of three children, could remember, he became a part of “Team Richburg,” a team that religiously rose every morning at the crack of dawn, rain or shine, weekdays and weekends, to tend to the animals in their care.
Richburg, who estimated he was either in kindergarten or first grade when he was first enlisted to help with the farm’s chores, smiled when he spoke about his earliest days.
“I’m not going to lie, Back then I’m pretty sure I hated it, but when I look back, I’m grateful that my parents raised me that way. “
Richburg’s chores before school included feeding the animals and freshening up their pens. He also helped with other little chores around the farm, his responsibilities increasing as he grew older and stronger.
Although the young man would have no doubt preferred to stay in bed or do his own thing, he was a good soldier, doing as his father instructed him. Along the way, he acquired a fundamental understanding of what it took to be successful in life, no matter what one’s occupation.
“It kind of taught me discipline to get up, be productive, do something, and be on time, which was really important,” Richburg said, his words no doubt ones that would make head coach Tom Coughlin beam with joy had he heard them.
“I had lots of chores – before school I was feeding animals. After school I was taking care of them – cleaning pens, or whatever. So that was always something I had to do that helped me carry over to (football).”
“You have to be disciplined to stay in your playbook and be on time to everything and what you put into it is what you get out of it,” Richburg said. “So if we put in a lot of hard work into a project back home, it turns out with good results. Same thing with athletics: If you want to do well, you have to put the time into it.”
The Carry Over
When Richburg arrived in East Rutherford, NJ at the Giants training facility, he came in with an open mind, ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work, doing whatever the coaches asked of him.
With the Giants having signed veteran J.D. Walton to be their center, it wasn’t immediately clear where Richburg might fit into the picture. However, the Giants, recognizing his athleticism and versatility, began to groom him at the guard position.
“I don’t like them standing around,” offensive line coach Pat Flaherty told reporters at the end of the team’s minicamp in June.
“How are they going to do good standing beside me, right? You’ve got to get in there in play, especially when you’re young. You have a lot of energy, you’re young just like everybody before me. You’ve got a lot of energy to do that so use your energy. It’s only going to make you better. He’s learning the position, not only at center, he’s learning at guard and he’s progressing.”
That’s fine with Richburg, who acknowledges that there’s a discernible difference between the techniques of a guard and center.
“It’s been good for me to kind of grow as an overall lineman and playing guard, setting up differently in the run blocking and in pass blocking then at center, having to snap the ball so that changes things up a bit,” he said.
“From a learning standpoint, it’s really helped being all over the board because it challenges me and requires me to do more than I would if I were just at center or at guard.”
Last week, Flaherty said he’s been pleased with Richburg’s development thus far and thinks the sky might be the limit for the young man.
“If and when in fact Weston continues to develop, he’s going to be a good offensive lineman…but he’s got to get in there and grow into that position,” he said.
“There’s a sense of urgency about being able to grow into a position, and the only way you’re going to be able to do that is if you have an opportunity to continue to play and we all have gone through growing experiences that aren’t so good. You just have to learn from them.”
That’s where life on a farm comes into play for Richburg. With each new task he learned—and there were some he admitted to not caring for, but which had to be done—it helped him put down a foundation that has positioned him for success at the NFL level.
“I think a lot of things we did on the farm kind of helped me in my athletic career,” he said, referring to the discipline and responsibility for others, similar to what he now faces as a member of the Giants.
“It’s all about communication. You have to be able to communicate with people and that’s what the offensive line is – five guys trying to communicate with each other. You’ve got to get on the same task together.”
If that means waiting his turn or playing a cameo, Richburg is fine with that.
“You want to have confidence in your ability and I have confidence in my ability. But I’m here as part of a team now. Being in college you’re always trying to be the best—I mean I’m still trying to be the best here but I want to contribute to this team now and any position I can, just be a part of it and push guys and just work my way into the starting field to contribute wherever that might be.”