Friday, July 18, 2008

Randle taught people to believe

Tribune Staff Writer

All through his football career, John Randle was constantly making people believe.

He was too small, his style too raw, his background too simple for him to become a star.

"My whole football career was a major surprise," Randle said. "I was just a kid from Texas with a love for the sport."

He went to high school in Hearne, Texas, in the east-central part of the state. Forget Division I football, no one thought he could play Division II. After all, there weren't many 6-foot-1, 220-pound defensive linemen even at that level.

"They thought maybe I'd make a good running back," Randle said.

So, he played junior college ball in the mid-1980s (at Trinity Valley Junior College in Athens, Texas) and proved himself there.

At least, proved himself enough to get a look from Texas A&I (now Texas A&M Kingsville), a Division II power.

"I had some offers," Randle said, "but one of my coaches at Trinity went to A&I and they had an opening for a defensive end. I was looking to play in a 4-3 (defense).

" It proved to be an education for Randle, both on and off the field.

"The first words out of the coach's mouth were 'son, where's your technique?'" Randle said. "It was like starting over. I thought because something worked in high school, it should work in college.

"I went all through the techniques and fundamentals ... I was going to the school of football.

"Randle learned enough to become a two-time Little All-American, a two-time Lone Star Conference Lineman of the Year and helped his team to a 20-4 record and two berths in the Division II playoffs.

His performance there is what has led to him being one of three College Division players who will be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Randle hoped for a shot in the NFL, but again, no one believed.

Go to the South Bend Tribune for the rest of the story.

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