BRICK – By his own admission, Richie Tallmadge could possibly be buckling the chin strap on a football helmet for a final time come Thursday night, a grim reality hard for a guy of his caliber to fully fathom. Based on his passion and intellect for the game, don’t bet on it.

He has far too much to give to walk away from the game that’s been engrained in his fabric for as long as he can recall. For the last two years, the 5-9, 190-pound linebacker was a staple of the Brick defense, the anchor of a unit stingy conceding points and taking its lead from a heat-seeking missile who offers what it demands to be elite through actions both on and off the field.

Richie Tallmadge of Brick (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Which is why, if – and only if – extending his playing days isn’t in the cards, Tallmadge is more than ready to swap a helmet for a head set and begin pursuit of another football avenue that, by all accounts, he is perfectly suited as an aspiring candidate for the coaching ranks.

For now, Tallmadge is cherishing every moment leading up to the All-Shor Gridiron Classic on Thursday at Long Branch, a vital cog for the Ocean County crew eager to end a two-game losing skid against its foes from Monmouth County and narrow the gap in a series that favors the guys from the north, 22-18-1. But, come this fall, Tallmadge will attend Ocean County College, a JUCO that doesn’t offer football within its athletic program.

Fear not. Tallmadge, true to his reputation as someone always prepared, has plans in place.

Option A is to look into playing with the New Jersey Warriors, a local post-graduate program comprised of players from area junior colleges who compete against other JUCOs as well as NCAA junior varsity squads. Option B is to pursue some coaching outlets, perhaps joining a staff as an intern while attending OCC or lending his endless insight in the youth ranks.

The bottom line is don’t worry about a guy with a level head on his shoulder pads. He has an excess of wisdom to bestow and runs on an engine that knows no limits, two of the many qualities that will make him an invaluable asset wherever he eventually lands. And, the caveat is whichever path he chooses, it will lead Tallmadge back to the game he has no intentions of bidding farewell to any time soon.

“I’m not the tallest, I’m not the biggest and I’m not the fastest,” Tallmadge honestly assessed of the natural measurables used by college recruiters to evaluate prospects for the next level . “You just get hit with reality. But, I want to be a coach. I'd love to be a graduate assistant at some school...anywhere that I can be a help."

To counter any of those self-perceived shortcomings, simply digest the numbers. Better yet, ask one of the hundreds of victims that endured the wrath of Tallmadge on the gridiron. He backed a junior year that featured 121 tackles and Second Team All-Shore recognition by compiling 176 stops (16.0 per game), 12 tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown to earn First Team honors as a senior.

"A lot of that had to do with how meticulous I was watching film," noted Tallmadge. "I was always paying attention to detail. There were times I knew where a play was going just by personel. I'd watch at least 10 hours of film a week during the season.

The gaudy resume wasn’t built purely on instincts. Tallmadge is not only a savage on the field but a savant in the film room, endlessly analyzing opponents’ tendencies to exploit on game day. He also borders on a pest to get his hands on schemes well ahead of time.

“Richie would text our defensive coordinator (Brian McNamara) Saturday nights and on Sunday, asking about game plans. Coach Mac would send Richie the game plan before everyone else got it on Monday, because he would go through the tapes for problems we might see. He could basically call the defenses on the field because of the preparation he put in. He knew the tendencies when a team showed this or went into that formation and that’s what makes him a special player.”

A special player and a football savant, chomping to hit someone on the other side, either with a bruising tackle or, maybe someday, with some defensive wizardry hatched through study and delivered by a sage through the conduit of future players willing to head the advice he’s anxious to share.

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