Richt’s Son At Clemson

Georgia coach Mark Richt sent his oldest child off to college earlier this summer, and didn’t hear from him for a while.

Not until the middle of last month when Jon Richt, who is a freshman quarterback at Clemson, needed a favor from his dad.

Was it football advice? Or to see how everyone was doing back home? No, not this time. Jon was flat broke after blitzing through his bank account in “record speed.”

“I didn’t hear from him until … he ran out of money for the first time,” Mark said with a laugh. “He said he needed money to buy food. I told him there was a dining hall where he could eat for free. He said it was too far of a walk, and I told him it wasn’t.”

The last two months have provided better understanding for the Richts on how parents feel when they send their child away to college.

“It has helped remind me the emotions that parents go through in this situation, because that [freshman] is their ‘baby,'” Mark said. “I had an idea about it, remembering how it was for me going off to college. But it’s different living through it as a parent.”

Jon, 18, is the oldest of the Richt’s four kids, and considers his dad “his best friend.”

But, best friend or not, fast food was not included in the monthly budget that Mark had set up for his son, who is on scholarship at Clemson. Mark agreed to help out with the cell-phone bill and gas for the car.

Knowing his father wasn’t going to overlook his spending habits, Jon mentioned one way he could quickly cut some costs was to get a less expensive plan for his phone.

But he still needed a few bucks to get back to Athens.

“[Jon] said he couldn’t come home for the weekend, that he didn’t have any gas money. I said ‘Well, I guess we’ll see you in a couple of weeks,'” Mark said with a smile.

Jon said his pleading over the phone didn’t seem to be fattening his bank account. He knew his father was trying to teach him an important lesson about spending money wisely.

“I didn’t get any money for a good 10 days, then my parents had some heart and helped me out,” he said. “But I know they were just helping me to learn to be my own man. It’s all for my own good.”

The Richts are a close-knit family, their jokes aside. Earlier this summer, the family had a “Blessing” ceremony for Jon in late May.

Around 10 family members wrote letters and read them aloud to Jon. The coach got teary-eyed when going last. Recalled his wife, Katharyn, “Mark just said was so proud of the young man Jon had become. He was excited about his future, and said that Jon was going to do a lot of great things in life for the Lord and bless a lot of people.”

Shortly before Jon left, Mark cried after realizing a previous work commitment would prevent his participation in a parent/child rite of passage: Helping Jon move into the college dormitory.

Said Katharyn, “He was disappointed he couldn’t go. I wasn’t in the room when they talked, but Mark’s eyes were red. And Jon teared up pretty good, too, but not as much, because he was so excited about going off to college.”

Jon’s college days got off to a rough start. A few days after settling in, he was diagnosed with mononucleosis and spent around three weeks in bed resting. Richt said Clemson’s coaches checked on his progress daily, and that his mother made the 180-mile roundtrip journey to take care of him in Athens for a few days. This time, Mark was able to arrange his work schedule to be able to take his son back to school.

During Clemson’s summer school sessions, Jon left campus every weekend to meet his family at home or a few times at Lake Hartwell. Katharyn said his visits were likely inspired to see his Athens-based girlfriend as much as family members.

Georgia’s coach had a pep talk for his son before Clemson’s practices began on Aug. 1, borrowing a popular phrase from Rutgers. Said Mark: “I told him no matter what happens, to ‘keep chopping wood’ …

“College football is a grind, lots ups and downs. Don’t ever get discouraged to the point where you want to quit because I know all freshmen go through rough times, tying to fit in.”

While Mark has a jam-packed schedule overseeing Georgia practices and team meetings, the rest of the family has made some trips to support Jon. Katharyn and three siblings were scheduled to attend Clemson “Fan Day” on Sunday.

However, don’t be surprised to see the father sitting among Clemson fans, schedule permitting. Katharyn said her husband plans to make an attempt to watch the end of the Clemson-Alabama game at the Georgia Dome on Aug. 30. It kicks off at 8 p.m., while Georgia has its season-opener much earlier (12:30 p.m.) the same day.

When asked if she could ever see Mark wearing Clemson colors to support Jon, Katharyn said, “That’s a hard question. We’re Georgia Bulldogs and we love our team, but you also want to cheer for your son. I have a white Clemson hat that I might could wear. But I don’t know if you’ll see Mark in anything Clemson. If it affects recruiting, then he won’t touch it.”

– Courtesy of AJC.com

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