The 23-year-old son of Georgia coach Mark Richt was among the 17 players that worked out for NFL scouts at Georgia’s Pro Day on Thursday. In addition to posting an 8-foot-5 long jump and 24 ½ inch vertical jump, the Mars Hill graduate threw passes to Tavarres King and Richard Samuel on the Woodruff practice fields.
“It was fun,” Jon said. “Me and TK got to work for about two weeks before and just got to throw a little bit with each other. Today we were able to go out there and execute real well. We both had a great day.”
Jon hoped to take part in Georgia’s Pro Day as an opportunity to display his talents for scouts from all 32 NFL teams. But his plan wasn’t concrete until Aaron Murray decided to return for his senior season.
“The reality was that if Murray went pro, and was there to throw to Tavarres and Richard Samuel, Jon wouldn’t have been out there,” Mark Richt said. “But because Murray came back and there was no draft-eligible quarterback out there, he was there to be able to help Tavarres and Richard as a guy that could rehearse with them a week or two in advance so when they did perform out there today, there’d be a comfort level.”
Jon reached out to King and Samuel in mid-February to hash out plans for Thursday’s event. The trio drafted close to 60 plays that they rehearsed in recent weeks.
In addition to the guidance from coach Richt, Jon’s uncle, former Super Bowl champion Brad Johnson, provided assistance.
“I just want to help and give him a gameplan going into it,” Johnson said. “I’ve watched him since he was a little baby, so I know he’s worked hard to get to this point.”
When the time came for passing drills, the wind subsided after a pervasive presence for the bulk of the day’s drills. Samuel said that it was a relief because it didn’t hinder Jon’s performance.
“The wind kind of died down when we got out there, so he was on the money every time,” Samuel said. “He threw it real well. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Jon completed nearly all of his passes with apt accuracy – only one or two were dropped or underthrown. Scouts were particularly impressed with his deep ball, which King caught roughly forty yards down the field in stride. Shortly thereafter, scouts approached Jon for brief discussion, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets among others.
"I wasn’t surprised that he could throw the ball the way that he did. But I knew everybody else would be," King said. "The kid has a cannon. Somebody is going to pick him up."
Johnson said he has no doubt that Jon will earn a trip to a rookie minicamp in the coming months.
“Jon will have a chance,” he said. “He has got plenty of athleticism. He has more arm strength than half of the guys in the NFL. The biggest thing now is getting a chance to get in there, and hope that someone likes you and your style of play fits the system that they have. You’re just looking for a chance, and he’ll get a chance.”
Immediately after Thursday’s Pro Day, Jon jetted north for the weekend to play in the South Carolina All-Star Bowl at North Greenville University. Only those who played college football in the state are eligible, but because Jon redshirted at Clemson he is permitted to participate.
Mark Richt said that he hopes to attend, but that chances are unlikely with Georgia practicing on Saturday.