HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - It’s not hyperbole when coach Jon Stuart says Eric Richards and Corvell Todd are a “deadly combination.”
Todd mowed through indoor competition, winning the Conference USA high jump title.
“Every coach that looked around that remembered [Richards] was like, ‘Wait you guys have another one?’” said USM jumps coach Jamaal Barnes.
Yeah, don’t forget about the two-time All-American Southern Miss has tucked in its holster.
Richards is one of the reasons Todd started high jumping after they crossed paths at the high school state championships.
“The year before I started state championships, I saw him jumping there,” Todd said. “Ever since I saw him jumping there, next year I came and won state after seeing him win state.”
Now the dynamic duo is busy putting the gold in Golden Eagles. It’s not often your toughest competition in the field is right in your backyard.
“We’re both competitive,” Todd said. “So if I see him clear like 7′1”, 7′2″ now it’s like I gotta go clear it.”
“Okay he’s number one, I gotta go number two,” Richards said. “No matter what it is, I gotta go two.”
“It’s a never, never-ending battle between these two,” Barnes said. “Competition they support each other, practice they support each other. But at the same time they have an internal drive. They want to the best.”
The object is the same for both, but their approach is different. Richards is powerful, aggressive. The longer, leaner Todd uses his finesse.
But the bottom line for both – they can get up.
“Their natural ability and athleticism is through the roof,” Barnes said. “As a coach, I try to let that highlight itself. You’re going to work the smaller things, making sure the approach is on point but you try not to overthink it so much that they stop being an athlete.”
The sky is just about the limit for these two Eagles.
Todd’s personal-best mark of 7′3″ placed him fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
But he still chases Richards, whose jump of 7′4.5″ is a program record.
“Their opportunities to succeed are in their own hands,” Barnes said. “I don’t think anybody can take that away from them. It’s been awesome having the two kind of go back and forth with each other, really trying to see each other reach new heights - literally.”