Richard Mullaney has found his home.
The day after his graduation party, he shoved as much as he could into two duffel bags, hopped on a plane and found himself in Alabama with no idea what to do.
The new Alabama wide receiver didn’t know the campus, and he didn’t know where he was going to live. Thankfully for Richard, his mother, Michelle Mullaney, quickly found him an apartment. Soon after, Richard signed his lease and had a roof over his head to accompany his two bags of clothes, but that’s about it.
“He didn’t have a car. He didn’t even have sheets,” Michelle said. “I said, ‘Go to Target. I’m going to be there in less than a week, just pick up the minimal stuff you need.’ ”
When Michelle got to town, she did what mothers do best and made sure her son had everything he needed.
“Then he was comfortable,” she said.
Once all of his living necessities were taken care of, everything else just fell into place.
He grew up in Thousand Oaks, California. He spent four years of his life in Corvallis, Oregon, while attending Oregon State for his undergrad. And now, he finds himself in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
“This is his home,” Michelle said. “He loves it. He is so happy.”
A warm welcome
From the beginning, Richard and his parents felt wanted by Alabama.
He graduated from Oregon State on Saturday, June 13, 2014. Two days later, he hung up the graduation gown and caught a 5 a.m. flight for Tuscaloosa.
He and his parents arrived on campus around 4 p.m., and everything unfolded rather quickly. They met the coaches. They had dinner together. Then, after a conference with head coach Nick Saban, Richard was offered a scholarship and had a choice to make.
They were going to visit four other schools, but when the moment came, his father Bob Mullaney was ready with some honest, easy to follow advice.
“I just said to my son, ‘It’s real simple. I don’t know what else you’re going to hear from anybody else, but you’re going to be playing for a National Championship if you come here and they know you and they want you,’ ” Bob said.
Richard turned to his father and finalized it all right then and there: He committed and was going to become a new member of the Crimson Tide.
“It really happened within a 48-hour period,” Bob said. “Alabama did it right.”
Mullany returned home, and within a week and a half – if that – was back in Alabama.
Richard left behind a family back in Oregon: his team.
It wasn’t easy leaving his Oregon State teammates and coaches, Michelle said. It only made it slightly easier that Oregon State’s head coach Mike Riley was leaving the team as well, and Riley was the original reason Richard went to Oregon State – it was just a coincidence they were both leaving at the same time.
“Richard stood out because he was one of those guys that’s a real good picture of what you’d like everybody emulating,” Riley said. “He always took care of business.”
Riley, who is now head coach at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, had mixed emotions about Richard’s transfer. As a former Alabama defensive back, Riley was torn between his love of Oregon State and his love of Alabama.
In the end, Riley knew it wasn’t up to him. He would be happy with the choice Richard made.
“He’s got to love it at Alabama,” he said. “I’m happy for his experience because I lived it. I know what it’s like, and it’s a great place.”
Richard’s wide receiver coach at Oregon State, Brent Brennan, said he was disappointed when Richard left, but only because he loves him. In Brennan’s eyes, Richard handled the whole situation in the right way. He knows Richard loves the game of football and because of who he is, the whole transition and joining a new team wouldn’t be an issue.
In the end, both coaches knew going to Alabama was in Richard’s best interest, and they support him regardless of the uniform he’s wearing.
“We miss ‘Tricky Dick’ here in Corvallis, but we are all rooting for him,” Brennan said. “We love him either way. He’s family.”
While he still stays in contact with many of his old teammates, Richard has gained a new family here at Alabama.
When Michelle first came to visit, Richard was showing her around town when the two bumped into teammate Reggie Ragland. Michelle said Ragland introduced Richard outside of football and showed him the town. He was the first person Richard connected with.
Then came the rest of the team.
“He hangs around with pretty much everybody on the team,” Bob said.
On Thursdays, Bob said it’s a weekly thing that Richard goes out to dinner with Jake Coker, Ryan Kelly and Dillon Lee. Every other day is fair game with the rest of the team.
“He’s got some great friends,” Bob said. “I would call them lifetime friends.”
Bob said Richard’s new friends plan to teach him how to hunt and fish, which as far as he knows, his son has never done, but he’s learning a few Southern traditions here and there.
Richard has a few options for Alabama’s bye week, but if his dad had to bet, he thinks his son will finally take up Coker’s offer – who’s asked him a few times – to go to his family farm and hunt.
In the three months he’s been in Tuscaloosa, Richard’s team has become more than just a second family, and his immediate family couldn’t be happier.
“I think this family knows more about him than I do,” Bob said. “He’s doing a bunch of stuff he’s never done before.”
New school, new identity, same traditions
He may have been referred to as “Tricky Dick” at Oregon State, but at Alabama, Richard has been given the nickname “Slotty Pippen.” He and his teammates aren’t really sure how it started, but it’s stuck.
It’s even his Twitter account name.
“I’m helping promote that,” teammate Alphonse Taylor said. “I like that nickname.”
Taylor also has his own …read more
Source:: The Crimson White Sports