After Randall reported to Baton Rouge for the first time in June for summer workouts, he enrolled in courses and began working out with his new teammates.
He worked behind Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, a pair of experienced veterans, and Zach Mettenberger, who enrolled in LSU last January after making stops at Georgia and Butler County Community College. Randall’s fellow freshman quarterback, Stephen Rivers, is the younger brother of Philip Rivers – one of the NFL’s top passers.
During film sessions over the summer and during camp this fall, quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe dove in head first with Randall – and the level of impact is evident.
“Coach Kragthorpe is teaching me a lot,” Randall said. “He’s the best quarterbacks coach I have ever had. I have never had a quarterbacks coach study with me in the film room, weight room and everything. He’s been behind me all the way, and I appreciate it.”
For Randall, there’s extra reason to appreciate his new life in Baton Rouge.
This time last year, the Sunshine State prospect was committed to Oregon.
After he pledged to Coach Chip Kelly in June 2010, Randall remained on the Ducks’ commitment list through National Signing Day the following February – when he hit a bump in the road.
Without the necessary ACT score, the NCAA did not allow Randall to send across his letter of intent at the same time as the rest of high school football’s college signees.
One month later, his test score improved and Randall was cleared – but Oregon was no longer there waiting.
“We parted ways,” Randall said. “Everything wasn’t working out the way it was supposed to. So, I went one way and (Kelly) went another way.”
While Randall had been intent on playing for the Ducks, the lack of interest from Kelly forced him in a new direction.
While a number of SEC schools were mentioned as being in the mix for Randall’s signature, the four-star prospect from the Miami area first looked towards the ACC, including down the road in Coral Gables, Fla.
“Miami and Virginia Tech, those were two schools that I was considering,” Randall said. “I took a visit out to Miami and everything.”
But for Randall, who said that he transferred from Norland High to Chaminade-Madonna Prep in search of better academics and better influences during his final year of high school, college scholarships stood for more than an education and a place to continue playing football.
It also meant a new home, one far from Hollywood, Fla.
“I just didn’t want to stay in my hometown,” Randall said. “I didn’t think that was the place for me. I wanted to have a college experience.”
LSU, enter stage right.
After former offensive coordinator Gary Crowton offered Randall a scholarship in May 2010, Randall quickly committed to the Ducks – leaving discussions with LSU coaches on the backburner for nearly a year.
But once Kelly decided to go in a different direction, Les Miles stepped in.
“(Miles) called me for two weeks straight, every night,” Randall said. “He was a loyal man to me. I said I would love to have this guy as a coach, and I would love to play behind Jordan Jefferson. I think it was a great deal and everything.”
On March 26, the LSU staff received a fax from a Florida area code.
Randall had committed to Miles, and the letter of intent was now in the hands of the head coach.
“It was the best feeling of my life,” Randall said. “I am going to college and going to join a family, a productive family.
“It’s a good deal.”
Ranked as the No. 14 quarterback prospect in the country for the 2011 class, Randall’s combination of arm strength and mobility made him one of the nation’s most-coveted dual-threat quarterbacks.
And while he might trail the crop of quarterbacks at LSU when it comes to size and passing accuracy, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Randall isn’t entertaining the idea of moving positions.
Point blank, Randall plans on taking snaps in Death Valley.
“I want to play quarterback,” Randall said. “Everyone doesn’t believe in me that I can do it, but my coaches believe in me, Jordan believes in me and I believe in myself.
“I am going to go hard and throw it to the best of my ability, study and get in the film room, take notes, and I will be ready.”
When Jefferson and Lee depart after this season, the Tigers will enter 2012 with two seasons to play Mettenberger – a 6-foot-5, 222-pound quarterback who makes his living sitting in the pocket.
The same goes for the 6-foot-7, 212-pound Rivers, leaving Randall as the lone quarterback who can also do the job with his legs – which Randall hopes will push him onto the field sooner than later.
“I am dual-threat quarterback,” Randall said. “I can run it, and run fast.”
But it doesn’t stop there.
“I am a powerful thrower,” he said. “I believe my best ability is throwing. I know how to read a defense and I can pick you apart, and I throw with finesse. I am not going to throw a floater.
“It doesn’t matter if I get redshirted or not. I am here, I am at LSU and I am here to play. If I have to play this year, if Jordan goes down and I have to get in a game, he’s preparing me to be ready for it. If I get redshirted, then that’s a better deal for me. I will get bigger, faster and stronger. I will be all right.”
With Randall left stationery through much of camp, even the untrained eye could spot that the skinny freshman didn’t sport the same throwing abilities as the pure passers of the group.
“Areas I need to improve in are my accuracy a little bit; I am not consistent with it, but it’s coming along,” Randall said. “Jordan is teaching me drop steps and my footwork, and I should be alright before he leaves next year.”
For now, the true freshman has time on his side.
And given his road to here, Randall is just happy to be part of the mix.