MANKATO — In 2016, Richard Kamara was a promising junior quarterback at Mankato East.
But since then, he’s been to Florida, Arizona and Kansas, trying to build his football resume, hoping for a chance at the scholarship level. And he’s now a receiver, taking advantage of the athletic ability he flashed as a youngster and ending up at Northern State.
“I’m coming back home, kind of,” Kamara said. “It’s going to be fun. I feel most comfortable at Northern. This feels like the right decision.”
On Tuesday, Kamara announced that he has committed to play football and continue his academic career at Northern State, a Division II program in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference at Aberdeen, South Dakota.
In his final season at East, Kamara completed 73 of 132 passes for 993 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he rushed for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He nearly engineered an upset in the annual game against Mankato West, but the final 19-play drive ended at the 1-yard line in the last minute.
“Richard has always been an exceptional athlete,” East coach Eric Davis said. “I haven’t gotten to see him play much at junior college, but Northern State is getting a great kid.”
But after that season, he moved with his family to Daytona Beach, Florida, where he quarterbacked a very good high school team to a 7-1 record in his starts.
He had drawn the interest of several Division I programs, but he struggled academically, so he enrolled at Arizona Western College. That program was dropped the next season, and Kamara moved on to Independence Community College in Kansas.
Again, he hoped to attract Division I programs, but he ended up getting interest from Division II universities such as defending national champion West Florida and Northern Sun programs Upper Iowa and Southwest Minnesota State.
“I can see the culture change at Northern,” Kamara said. “They had an OK record last season, but I really like the way coach (Mike) Schmidt presents himself.”
Kamara will also work with offensive coordinator Isaac Fruechte, who spent a couple of seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
“It’s a goal of mine to play at the next level,” Kamara said. “He’s the kind of coach that will develop me to be the best player I can be.”
Kamara’s position coach will be Ryan Schlichte, who was the starting quarterback at West when Kamara was growing up at East. Schlichte was one of the first coaches at Northern State to reach out to Kamara.
“I remember watching (Schlichte) beat up East in the Jug game,” Kamara said. “It’s amazing that he’s now my coach. We’ve talked a lot on the phone, and I hope to build on that relationship when I get to campus.”
Kamara’s football journey will come full circle in a few months. Northern State is scheduled to open the season on Sept. 3 at Minnesota State’s Blakeslee Stadium.
“When I was doing all the traveling and I had some struggles, I always wondered ‘why is this happening to me,’” said Kamara, now 25 pounds heavier and faster and more explosive than when he went to East. “But God always has a plan, and now it’s up to me to do the best I can with my abilities.”
Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.