Randle El has unique perspective on Indiana

Both of Marcus Randle El's older brothers played football for the Hoosiers

MADISON — The last time the Indiana University football team visited Camp Randall Stadium here, current Badger sophomore wide receiver Marcus Randle El was sitting in the east bleachers. That day nearly four years ago he cheered for the Hoosiers as they dismantled the host school 63-32.

In what was probably Wisconsin's worst performance this decade, the Badgers were pummeled right from the beginning. Marcus' older brother, Antwaan Randle El, had a lot to do with the Badgers' misery that October Saturday.

"We sitting out there like, ‘Wisconsin is just not Wisconsin,'" Marcus recalled, referring to a conversation with his dad, Curtis Sr., during the game. "‘They must didn't wake up this morning. We kept saying, man, what's going on?' I think at the half it was like 31-0."

Actually, with three minutes and 13 seconds left in the first quarter the score was 32-0, thanks to Antwaan Randle El's four-yard touchdown pass, the Hoosiers' fifth touchdown of the period. In the opening quarter, IU tailback Levron Williams ran for three of his Big Ten record-tying six touchdowns. A blocked punt return made up the rest of the damage in that incredible opening 12 minutes.

When it was all said and done, IU had rolled up 449 rushing yards on 54 attempts (Williams had 280 yards on just 20 carries; Randle El 102 yards on 14 rushes) and Randle El had thrown for 182 yards on 8 of 13 passing.

"When the score got (to) 62 I said, ‘Oh, my God, we really beat a real big team,'" Marcus said.

This time Marcus will not be cheering for Indiana, obviously. But his brothers are still showing their Hoosier colors. Antwaan, now a wide receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was a star quarterback at IU for four years, one of the most productive players in college football history. Curtis Randle El Jr., the oldest of the three brothers, was a defensive back with the Hoosiers.

Marcus keeps in regular contact with his brothers and said he is very close to each of them. This week that relationship is being marked by some friendly bantering.

Antwaan and Curtis Jr., for instance, have been sending text messages to Marcus's cell phone, with lines like this:

"‘Indiana's 3-0, Rose Bowl bound,'" Marcus said. "And I text back, ‘Ha, ha.'"

Marcus is far from dismissive of his brothers' alma mater. "Indiana is 3-0," he said. "They've turned the program around." But what he does not need is a pair of gloating siblings.

Antwaan and Curtis Jr. told Marcus they would be attending the Wisconsin/Indiana game and cheering for their little brother. However, if the Badgers lose, Marcus's brothers have told him he will have to hear them brag.

"I take that as we need to win so I ain't got to hear nothing about it," Marcus said.

The elder Randle El brothers, however, will not be in attendance if Marcus is still ailed by the strained hamstring that has been troubling him the past two weeks.

"If I'm healthy enough to play then they will (come)," Marcus said.

Marcus injured his hamstring two-and-a-half weeks ago, on the third of three punts he returned in the second half of UW's blowout win over Temple.

"I've been able to do stuff (in practice) but not at the highest percentage that I can go. Not at full what I can give," Marcus said. "To me, that hurts my heart to go out and not be able to give my teammates what I need to give them to help the team."

Randle El had a very good fall training camp and was contending for a spot in the Badgers' rotation as a third receiver, but has fallen behind since the injury.

"I'm trying to get back 100 percent," he said. "I really am trying because these years go too quick… I was doing good in the first part of the season, you know, playing time and everything. For an injury to come out, is kind of hurtful to me. I just have two years left, so I just want to get back as soon as possible. Just try to get back on the field."

Randle El, however, said that while the injury is of the day-to-day variety, he has no idea how long it will take him to feel completely healthy and confident in it.

"That's the main thing," he said. "I don't want to get out there and mess it up and then come the ninth game of the season I'm still sitting out."

In Randle El's absence, UW's top four receiver slots have been pretty well established with seniors Brandon Williams, Jonathan Orr and Brandon White followed by sophomore Jarvis Minton.

"I believe all three of them (seniors) can go to the NFL," Randle El said. "… Having those guys in front of you and still being able to compete with them and have a starting job — to me that's an accomplishment. That's something to look forward to (and) know what they (are) leaving behind is what I should pick up."

This season is still in its early stages, but Marcus does have an eye on 2006, when he and Minton will likely be at the top of the depth at receiver.

"My whole mindset going into next year is to be that guy; to be that guy that's going to make plays and be that guy that is going to step up and do what I'm supposed to do," Randle El said.

Marcus was a star quarterback at Thornton Township High School in Harvey, Ill., and he came to UW with dreams of calling the signals for the Badgers. But he has accepted his role as a wide receiver.

"(John) Stocco's a great quarterback," he said. "He's everything that a team needs to win as it comes to quarterback."

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