|40-yard dash:||4.73 at Maryland summer camp|
|Hometown/School:||Columbia, Md. (Wilde Lake HS)|
It's not very often these days, when you hear a high school kid say that having the four seasons in his life could be a deciding factor in his college decision. Many kids like schools, such as Miami, where white sand beaches and eighty degree days seem to wash away the memories of northern trees, full of leaves that annually transform from summer green to the vivid yellows, oranges, and reds of fall. Columbia (Wilde Lake HS), Maryland's Dane Randolph isn't your normal high school senior dreaming of playing football in the south, far from snowy days and bitter cold winds, because he has been there--in fact, Dane has been everywhere and for his money, you can't beat a cool autumn day.
The 6'6'', 247-pound defensive end with a 79'' wingspan is a well traveled young man. His mother, a cryptologist in the United States Navy, has been stationed just about every where you can think of and then some places.
"I was born in Pensacola (Florida). We were probably only there for a few months and then she was stationed in Portugal, right next to Spain. I think we were over there for two years and then we came to Maryland for three or four years. We lived in Fort Meade. And then we moved to Canada and we were on the west coast of Canada on this island called Masset. And then from Canada we moved to West Virginia. I lived in Sugar Grove, West Virginia. And then from West Virginia to Florida--I lived in Jacksonville. And then from there I moved to Maryland, about a year and a half ago in January."
"While I was in Florida, she was on this ship, the (U.S.S.) J.F.K. I think for about seven months I didn't see her at all, so my aunt kind of raised me. We have a lot of family in Florida and Alabama, so down there I always have family around me. My mom lived up here (Maryland) before so she knows the area. She remembered Columbia was in the process of being built up, so she wanted to come here because she knows it's a new community," explained Dane, sounding proud of the work his mother does for the United State Navy.
The coaching staff at Wilde Lake HS is also obviously happy that his mother decided to settle down in their community. Last season, Dane recorded 60+ tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and 6 sacks from his defensive end and defensive tackle positions. This season he hopes to improve upon those numbers, especially because he would like to make his college decision soon in order to concentrate on school and football.
"My head coach told me to narrow it down because he told me it was going to get hectic, especially if I don't make my decision by my senior year. He's had it happen a lot of times before, where a guy will be recruited by (Division) 1-A schools and during their senior year they can't concentrate on their academics. They just totally fall on their academics by just concentrating on football the whole year," said Dane, who has already qualified for freshman eligibility but would like to improve his SAT score nonetheless.
As per his coaches advice, Dane has already narrowed down his choices to three lucky schools--Maryland, Virginia, and Penn State--but that doesn't mean that other schools weren't interested, but his three meet his academic, location, and athletic specifications.
"I wanted a nice ranking school and good education. I know Virginia and Penn State have very good educations. Maryland is on the rise for having a good education. I know the criminal justice department at Maryland is the best of all three of them. I was thinking about criminal justice but now I'm more into business and marketing, but I'm not to sure yet. I've been told that usually you change your mind during your sophomore year anyway," Dane said.
Dane attended camp at each of the schools this summer, spending one day at Virginia and three days each at both Maryland and Penn State. What characteristics does Dane like about each school?
"I like the atmosphere that Maryland has, probably because I've been to Maryland--I can't count how many times I've been to Maryland because it's only thirty minutes away. So I can always take a drive on the weekend and watch them practice or do whatever," explained Dane. "I like the atmosphere. I love the coaches--they're always nice when I go there. They all of great personalities, definitely Coach (Ralph) Friedgen. Whenever I ask him a question, he will answer my question. He's straight forward."
"I haven't met all of the coaches at Virginia, so I don't how the coaches really coach. But I know my recruiting coach, (Special Teams coach) Coach (Corwin) Brown, he's a nice guy. I like the way they have stadium and their set up. They have practice fields right by their basketball stadium. It's real nice too. They have one turf field and three grass fields," said Dane of his second trip to Charlottesville.
"Penn State is above both of them in facilities. Their facilities are very nice at Penn State. The only down side is that it's in the middle of nowhere, but it's a city in itself. You can get everything in that city. I took a tour and you don't even need to leave the city."
Dane has been to Happy Valley only once (this summer's camp), but he would like to get back to both Virginia and Penn State.
"I wanted to but with my schedule [it will be tough]. I've been trying to get a job, so I haven't been able to go. I want to go with my mom because [she] knows the questions to ask as far as academics and everything. Me, I just ask how are the academics and how do the players like this degree area. But my mom can go more in-depth with everything."
"I've been talking to my mom and she said whatever day is good for her, she just has to know before hand so she can take leave and I've got to get in touch with the coaches," continued Dane, who will also attend a speed camp this week and a peer mediation class. "I want to see them at least one more time before I make my decision. What I planned to do was go to one of their first football games, just before our season started. But it doesn't seem like I'm going to be able to fit that in. During this school year (2002 season), I wasn't able to go to of the football game because our games are Saturday. I'm committed to the football team (Wilde Lake HS). I don't want to leave the football team on a Saturday just to go visit a college to see them play."
Dane's mother has not yet been to Penn State, but she has seen Virginia, the campus that he has seen the least of.
"I haven't seen the campus but my mom has. Because I was only at the camp session for one day and she spent the day there with me. I just basically did all the camp stuff and she tried to get the academics. She got a tour of the campus, so she knows [it] pretty well."
Does Dane have one school that sticks out above the other two?
"Maryland does lead right now. I like to say that because I know so much about Maryland, I don't need to go back to Maryland or anything. But I could always go back to see the coaches. The coaches are really nice there, especially Coach (Dave) Solazzo. I know he's going to be my coach if I go there."
"Maryland was the first to offer me. They offered me quite early, right when my season was over at their junior day, which was sometime in January. I think after they saw my game tape they were sure and they offered me."
Dane continued, "I'd say Virginia's a little bit over Penn State. Probably, again, because I've seen Virginia twice and Penn State once. I've only met (defensive line) Coach (Larry) Johnson and the offensive line coach. I haven't met the head coach yet. I was disappointed I didn't get to meet the head coach during the camp. What happened was the last day I was supposed meet him but he had some emergency and he had to leave on his private helicopter or something. He's the only head coach I haven't seen. I like Penn State's facilities a lot and the atmosphere there is probably better than both other places, but I still need to get in touch with all the other coaches and the head coach of course."
"The down side for Virginia and Penn State is that I haven't seen them that much because Virginia's three hours away and Penn State's four hours away. So I have to plan to go there. I can't just go and drop everything else."
Penn State has not given Dane a written offer yet, but Dane has a theory why the Nittany Lions haven't offered him in writing.
"Probably because I haven't seen the head coach and the head coach really has to offer me. So far only the head coaches have offered me. But Coach Johnson was telling me since [Coach Paterno] left on an emergency, I'm probably not going to get the paper."
"Coach Johnson is a really great coach. I like his coaching style," said Dane, who elaborated, "He can get revved up and everything. He can motivate just about anybody. When he needs to be serious, he can be serious."
While Dane still hopes to see both Penn State and Virginia before he makes his decision, which ever school that signs Randolph will be getting a terrific athlete and person. But one very important question still remains--what exactly does a Naval cryptologist do?
"[Mom] said if anybody wants to know, they'll look it up," Dane said with a chuckle.
(Interview by Steve Curry)