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Shaquille Richardson's eyes light up at the prospect of his first-ever college start, but little else happens.

The freshman cornerback's pulse doesn't quicken. His lip doesn't quiver.

When Richardson's heart races, it's because of exhaustion - not exhilaration.

"It's a lot more reps," he said with a smile. "I gotta get my cardio up."

Richardson is expected to take more snaps than ever when the Arizona Wildcats face Washington State on Saturday in Pullman, Wash.

Starter Trevin Wade, who has missed two days of practice this week with a deep thigh bruise, practiced for the first time Wednesday. Richardson, 6feet 1inch and 185 pounds, would take Wade's place if he's unable to go.

Coaches believe Richardson, who was dismissed from UCLA over the summer after being arrested in connection with an alleged theft, has unlimited potential. He has registered five tackles and recovered a fumble in spot duty so far this season.

The next step, Richardson said, feels completely natural.

"I'm ready," he said. "I'm pretty confident when I'm on the field."

The Star talked to Richardson, 18, about his first start, tough past and adjustment to life as a Wildcat. Here's what he said.

On playing with the first-team defense in practice: "I didn't expect any of my starting DBs to get injured, but I knew I would be in the rotation."

On whom he has told about a possible start: "My mom. I've already told her that I have a chance, but I expect Trevin to be back. She says to be ready."

On how he compares to Wade and starter Robert Golden: "I think I'm different than both of them. I'm somewhere in the middle. Trevin's the smartest guy out there, him and 'Perk' (safety Joe Perkins). Golden's physical - he comes into the box and hits guys. I've got to get better at both of their strengths."

On the keys to being successful: "Keep working hard, get in the playbook and pray about everything."

On the biggest adjustment to college football: "Working together, knowing the plays, how they all go together. It's all hard. Nothing's easy. You've got to work at everything."

On his in-practice battles with star receiver Juron Criner: "He plays off your weaknesses. Whatever you do in that split-second, he attacks that. Coach (Mike) Stoops expects a lot out of me, and I expect a lot out of myself. Just because it's Juron doesn't mean its OK to get beat."

On whether he's tired of talking about the alleged theft: "Yeah, but, you know, it's part of living. You make mistakes, you learn from them, and you have to deal with the consequences."

On whether Stoops holds him to a higher standard because of it: "Maybe he does, but he hasn't had any reason to say anything. I've been out of trouble."

On living in Tucson: "I like it. My favorite place? I've been to that really good breakfast place … Bobo's."

On his favorite breakfast: "French toast. Everybody gets the big pancakes, but I'm a French toast guy."

On what he does for fun: "We don't have a lot of time. Sometimes I just walk the campus, check things out. It's a nice campus."

On Arizona weather: "I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew it was going to be hot. And it's hot, but I'm getting used to it. It's not that bad."

On his L.A. roots: "I choose one of my friends to come out every week, to come to the home games. My mom comes to all the games, too. She loves it."

On StarNet: See this week's Wildcat Insider with Ryan Finley

Up next

• What: Arizona at Washington State

• When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Versus

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM


• Who: Shaquille Richardson, 18, freshman cornerback

• Height, weight: 6-1, 180

• From: Carson, Calif. (Los Alamitos High School)

• 2010 stats: 5 games played, 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 fumble recovery

• Notable: Rated the No. 26 cornerback by and No. 30 by coming out of high school. Also played wide receiver in high school and amassed 540 yards and five touchdowns his senior year.