Mark Richt’s son, David, trying to make most of music opportunities in Nashville

Georgia’s third road game of the season Saturday couldn’t be any easier for David Richt to attend.

Mark and Katharyn Richt’s second oldest son now lives within walking distance of Vanderbilt Stadium.

“Oh, yeah, definitely,” David Richt said. “That’s what I’ll be doing.”

The freshman at Belmont University is pursuing a career in music business in Nashville, Tenn., at a school that’s spawned country stars Brad Paisley, Josh Turner, Trisha Yearwood, Florida-Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley and Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman.

David is 18 and released a seven-song contemporary Christian album “Everybody Matters” last winter.

“I like all kinds of music — country, rock, pop — anything that has a positive message,” David said. “I don’t like to fill my mind with things that won’t have me focused on good things. I will listen to a lot of different genres, especially if it’s good clean music.”

David turned his focus to music before his sophomore year at Prince Avenue Christian when he decided to give up football.

The wide receiver/free safety walked away from the sport that his father, Georgia’s head coach for 13 seasons, is synonymous with to pursue a career in music.

“It was really towards the end of the summer,” Mark Richt remembered. “He had worked all summer with the team, all the summer workouts. Camp was getting ready to start and he just kind of came to me a little sheepishly and said, ‘Dad, I don’t think I want to play anymore.’

“I said, ‘That’s fine. Can you tell me why?’ He said, ‘Well, in football, you’ve got to hit people, and I don’t really want to hit anybody, Dad. Also in football, you get hit a lot. I don’t really want to get hit.’ I said, ‘Son, that’s the best reason I’ve ever heard for not wanting to play football.’”

Then Mark gave his son a hug.

The father sensed when his son was younger that he didn’t really love playing the sport and told him, “Please, don’t play for me.”

“I think he liked it and I think he probably thought somewhere that I would be happy if he played football or happier with him or more pleased with him,” Mark said. “I tried to explain that to him and it never resonated I don’t think. When he finally told me, I was fine with it.”

David said he loved football and still does, but said: “It’s funny because I was 115 pounds as a freshman and the year I quit, I gained 85 pounds.”

David co-wrote songs with his producers, Tyler Hayes and Mark Lee of the Christian group Third Day. Hayes has written songs for such artists as Jesse McCartney, Hilary Duff and Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20.

David took piano lessons starting in the fourth grade and has worked with a voice coach.

Mark has helped get his son’s music career off the ground.

He introduced David when he sang a song at country star Luke Bryan’s farm tour last year in Colbert, got up early one morning during Georgia’s open date in September to drive to a morning show appearance on Atlanta’s 104.7 The Fish, a Christian music station and even was in David’s “Dawg Bite” video that was shown at the G-Day spring game this year.

The video, featuring country music rapper Colt Ford, was panned widely on the Internet.

“It was interesting how people reacted,” David said. “Honestly, it was very quickly done and when we did it, it was just a fun thing to do for my dad. That’s what it was. When they said we were going to do a music video, I didn’t know until the day of.”

He was surprised when it was on the video board in Sanford Stadium and with the reaction.

“When USA Today said it was the worst video in the world, I was like, ‘Ugh,’” David said. “At least all I can do is get better. … Just like my dad says, I can’t let that affect me. They just might be having a terrible day and say that. I can’t say it’s the best either.”

David sang the national anthem at a few Georgia basketball game last season and sang in churches in Athens and Gainesville and performed at AtlantaFest, a Christian music festival.

He’s worked together with Georgia receiver Chris Conley, who plays the guitar.

“He’s definitely grown a whole lot over these past couple of years,” said Conley, who said he joined defensive end Ray Drew in that video when the players happened to be walking by when it was shot. “From a showmanship standpoint, he’s gotten a lot more confident. His ability to write and play at larger venues has definitely grown. He’s only going to get better.”

Now David is studying in what’s often called Music City.

“I don’t know if it’s the mecca of music period, but it’s pretty strong,” Mark said.

David, who will get a chance to stop by the team hotel Friday night to see his father, sees himself in five years as a Christian artist “speaking out and doing things for the glory of God and his Kingdom. I’ll be whatever I need to be in five years as long as it’s doing God’s will.”

Said his father: “He wants to learn the business aspect if his career goes well. The more he knows about it, the better. If not, there’s ways to maybe make a living in the music business.”

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