MASSEY MAKES THE GRADE
Meet the teenage juggernaut from Texas who is breaking tackles and shattering powerlifting records.
By Kim Goss
Published: Summer 2002
In Eastern Bloc countries the most promising young athletes are sent to sport schools. There they are given the best coaching to nurture their talent, with the hope that they will be able to represent their country in international competition. To determine which athletes warrant the investment of their country’s resources, doctors and sport scientists subject candidates to a battery of physical tests. In addition to seeing how fast the athletes can run and how high they can jump, these experts perform orthopedic and biochemical evaluations.
Half a world away in the US, Richuel Massey, Jr. had never participated in such extensive physiological testing as a child. However, the fact that he could squat 400 pounds and triple jump 40 feet when he was in the seventh grade was more than enough to prove he had promise in athletics.
As a junior at Hillsboro High School in Hillsboro, Texas, Massey has been rewriting the record books in powerlifting and posting some big numbers as a running back. Let’s start with his accomplishments in the weight room.
The Strongest Will Survive
An enthusiastic believer in the BFS program used by the Hillsboro Eagles, this personable 17-year-old is the current Texas High School State Powerlifting Champion in the 220-pound bodyweight division. At a bodyweight of 205 pounds Massey has lifted 700 pounds in the squat, 400 in the bench press, 670 in the deadlift and 295 in the power clean. Massey’s former football coach at Hillsboro is Bryan Erwin, who recently accepted the head coaching job at football powerhouse La Marque High School in La Marque, Texas. believes Massey has the potential to easily break 1,900 pounds in the total next year---perhaps going as high as 2,000. “He’s already totaled 1,770. You don’t want to promise that he’s going to set the standard so high that no one is going to ever break it, but with Richuel that could happen.”
Massey has always been strong. When he was 10 years old he would push cars around parking lots to build his legs, and in the seventh grade after just one year of lifting he weighed 170 pounds and could power clean 225, bench press 235 and squat over 400 pounds to parallel.
In football, Richuel has drawn the attention of numerous Division I colleges. And with good reason. Last year he rushed for 1,700 yards, had 10 catches for another 221 yards and visited the end zone 25 times. “Richuel is a powerful, bruising type of runner---but he’s very quick,” says Erwin. “He also has good hands.”
As for the accomplishments of the Eagles, Hillsboro is a Class 3A school of approximately 500 students that until three years ago had not won a playoff game in 46 years. Since Erwin and Massey have been at Hillsboro, the Eagles have made it to the playoffs three years in a row. Erwin credits BFS for much of this success. “We use the entire BFS program,” says Erwin. “We perform the core lifts, the dot drills, the stretching, the plyometrics, and we use the records cards. The program has made a huge impact on the kids and has raised their expectations---every day we talk about getting bigger, faster and stronger.”
Put to the Test
In January Massey had the opportunity to judge himself against the nation’s best young football players when he was invited to the US Army National High School Combine in San Antonio. This event, which involved over 200 of the top high-school juniors in the country, was directed by Don Beebe, formerly of the Buffalo Bills and one of the most respected organizers of football combines. Erwin said Beebe ran it exactly like a NFL combine, except the athletes used 185 pounds in the bench press rather than 225.
At the combine Richuel vertical jumped 34.5 inches, standing broad jumped 10’4”, ran a 4.48 forty (which was hand-timed by Don Beebe and included a 1.51 10-yard split), made a 4.61 shuttle, and bench pressed 185 for 35 reps. He also participated in a football skills event. At the end of the two days Richuel’s scores were so outstanding that he was named the event’s most valuable player.
Although some athletes would let such success go to their heads, Massey hasn’t. Erwin says Massey is a mature young man with strong moral values. “Richuel is very humble,” says Erwin. “He’s a great Christian who loves the Lord---he even has a Bible in his locker and I’ve seen him witnessing his faith to his teammates.”
Massey does well in academics, scoring 21 on the ACT, and he definitely plans on going to college to pursue a degree in engineering. Although he hasn’t made any firm commitments and says, “I just want to play,” Massey says his favorite schools include Texas, Alabama and Florida.
As Massey goes into his senior year, there will be a lot of pressure on him to continue to produce big plays on the gridiron and hoist even more monstrous weights on the lifting platform. Based on his past amazing accomplishments, Richuel Massey, Jr. is more than ready for the tough tests ahead.