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Irish A-to-Z: Doug Randolph

Aug 9, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT

Doug Randolph

After a freshman season spent watching and learning, sophomore linebacker Doug Randolph’s eligibility clock begins in 2014. The Woodberry Forest alum, hailing from the same high school program that brought C.J. Prosise and Greer Martini to the Irish, brings another good looking athlete into the mix at linebacker.

While a lingering shoulder injury limited Randolph’s participation last season, he was full go in spring and is fighting for a spot on the two deep in fall camp.

Let’s take a closer look at the Virginia native.


6’2″ 240 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 44



Randolph was a Stanford commit until he flipped for the Irish after an official visit in September. A rangy linebacker, it wasn’t exactly clear what position Randolph would play, but he seemed to fit the mold of Big Skill, and had the length Bob Diaco looked for in an inside linebacker.

“Can do a number of different things. He’s somebody that’s long at 6’3″, very versatile, can stand up or put his hand down,” Kelly explained. “He gives us that kind of flexibility at that position.  Great student, great family.”

A U.S. Army All-American, Rivals rated Randolph one of the Top 150 players in the country, Randolph also starred in the Chesapeake Bowl, showing impressive coverage skills as well as pass rush ability.


Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.



Randolph’s athleticism is pretty impressive. He was a long-stick middie on the high school lacrosse team and had plenty of high lights as a tight end as well. The biggest question is his fit on the defense, as we’ll see if he develops as a candidate to play in the middle or if he plays on the edge.

During spring drills, Randolph spent time at the Will. If that’s the case in 2014, he’s going to be playing behind Jaylon Smith for at least two seasons. As Brian VanGorder builds situational opportunities for defenders with skills that can help make the Irish better, there’s also a chance that Randolph can slide around to the Sam spot, providing a bigger body than the James Onwualu or John Turner types.



A perfect fit to make his impact on special teams, Randolph is the type of athlete that could thrive on cover units, fast enough to get down the field and big even to wreak havoc. He also showed an ability to get after the quarterback in high school, so there’s room for him to find the field if he can show the coaching staff he’s productive enough.

It’s worth considering what Stanford saw in Randolph, likely seeing a candidate to play on the edge of their defense as an outside linebacker. If the Irish do indeed show some 3-4 looks, Randolph’s versatility could be helpful.

With question marks on the defensive side of the ball and a lot of young players fighting to answer them, Randolph’s one of a handful of former big-time recruits with an opportunity to be a part of the next generation.

  1. domerboyirish - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    He was a Rivals 150 player and yet his best ‘fit’ might be special teams. Something is seriously wrong here. I hate hearing that is isn’t the prototypical size for a certain position. The kid is clearly a gifted athlete, and talented football player, so lets get him on the field as much as we can! The kid was ranked as the ninth best linebacker in the country! At just about any other school this level of player is called a starter. I’m really getting tired of players with this much athletic potential getting downgraded by the coaching staff because he is 2 inches too short or 15 pounds too light. He’s a ‘tweener’. Argh! That gets under my skin! He was clearly good enough to recruit him! We are still thin at linebacker. Give him a spot on the two deep and stop worrying about size.

    • goirish0112 - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      Keep in mind he was held back by injuries last year and has 4 years of eligibility left. If he is as talented as we hope he will get on the field and has his whole career ahead of him. I don’t think Keith’s comment on special teams contributor is a 4 year tag, just a current expectation.

      Go Irish!

      • domerboyirish - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:21 PM

        I agree that he will not be a ST player for four years, however I get irked when excuses get made for a kid because he doesn’t fit some preconceived ideal mold of what linebacker should look like. That’s where I took issue.

    • bernhtp - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:19 PM

      Randolph will contribute this year absent injury. The physical prototype seems way more important to the Diaco defensive strategy than to BVG.

      Too many people get obsessed with HS recruitnik ratings. While they are certainly correlated with future success, they too often miss. Schmidt is the perfect example. He will make a huge contribution this year and all I hear people talk about is his limitations stemming from a 2-3 star rating. Well, he’s years away from that and has since climbed atop those ranked way higher.

      • domerboyirish - Aug 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        Bern, I always respect your comments so I thought I’d respond.

        I don’t think I am getting carried away with recruiting rankings here. I agree that there are no guarantees but I also recognize that the higher the ranking the more likely they are to succeed. The kid is clearly athletic, and if his brains and heart match his measurables, he should do really well.

        I’ll also say that I know a little something about football; just enough to be dangerous! (Stress on the word ‘little’) I was fortunate enough to coach youth football along side two guys that started at Stanford and Michigan and learned a great deal from them about the sport. One thing they joked about what how everybody gets so caught up in size and how it gets worse every year. They viewed it simply as a talking point created by ESPN to fill space and to sound important. Now that has evolved into discussions about linemen being a 1 technique or 5 technique, just to make it sound important, and my friends just keep laughing. Too much emphasis is placed on size because it is simply something to talk about.

        Of course I realize that you can’t have a 200 pound kid play nose guard. That’s obvious, but the kid can play outside linebacker. He excelled at it enough to impress and get offers from the likes of Alabama, FSU, scUM, South Carolina and Stanford. I really don’t like it when people start to talk about a player’s size as being a detriment (John G might have to look that word up!) It’s either to use it as an excuse when they are not successful OR to use it as a phony story about how he was able to overcome such adversity because he was a 6’-3 guy playing a 6’-5” position. It ruffles my feathers.

      • papadec - Aug 9, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        domerboy – I absolutely agree with you regarding the talking heads (emphasis on talking) @ espn. They seem to make up technical sounding stuff just so they can come across as knowledgeable. For the most part – I change channels when they start filling space with BS.

      • wisner74 - Aug 9, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        Domerboy, I like your point about size, “5 technique” etc., but I’m with Bern when it comes to HS recruiting rankings. Those go out the window as soon as the kid hits the college practice field. I don’t know whether Randolph will play or not, but I’m going to trust the coaches on that decision, not Tom Lemming.

        Bern gave you a great example of positive proof that the rankings sometimes miss (frankly I think the rankings regularly miss). Here are a couple of negative examples of the same point: Mike McNair and Carlos Pierre Antoine. Those guys go back probably 10-15 years, so you may not remember them. They both came to ND as big-time recruits and left years later without having made much of an impact at all.

      • domerboyirish - Aug 9, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        understood. I must say it is nice having a real football conversation in here instead of all the SEC crap that’s been thrown around.

      • bernhtp - Aug 9, 2014 at 5:32 PM

        Two words: Luke Kuechly.

        He was a quintessential RKG who really wanted to go to ND. But Charlie Weis didn’t want a 3-star guy without a national ranking.

        Luke had lots of offers from places like Stanford and Michigan St., but he ultimately went where many others not admitted to Notre Dame go: Boston College. The rest is history.

        Thankfully, Brian Kelly isn’t making many of these mistakes. He makes his own assessment, and that is increasingly considering heart, attitude and the development potential and team building that brings.

      • wisner74 - Aug 9, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        That’s a great example. And speaking of linebackers, another recruiting miss involved a PA linebacker (can’t recall his name at the moment) who was not highly ranked by the services but wanted to go to ND. He wasn’t offered, so he went to Penn St. where he became an All-American and then went on to a successful NFL career.

        Thinking he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, Weis did take his younger, less-talented brother. Probably a nice kid, but did not have a very productive football career at ND. (The family name will come to me eventually.)

      • wisner74 - Aug 9, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        Posluzky? or something like that.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      The kid would have been a stud if he had played for Stanford. This is just ridiculous.

      • 1historian - Aug 11, 2014 at 8:10 AM

        True, but keep in mind that before he came to ND Weis had NEVER coached in college and had never been a head coach. He was clearly unqualified for the job of Head Coach at Notre Dame, and the people who hired him made a big mistake in doing so, and I think ND is still paying him.

  2. goirishgo - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    21 days til Rice.

    Go Irish!

  3. johngaltsassisspeaking - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:08 PM


    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 9, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Dude, did you just fart in here? I had a general disdain for your opinions to begin with, but now you come in here and do something so vile and disgusting. Ugh, and what is that? Ketchup and onions? The SEC stuff seems a little f’ed up now. Please leave.

    • onward2victory - Aug 9, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Haha well done.

  4. getsome99 - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    He was recruited to play OLB in a 3-4. Unless he can gain 20 pounds, he’s too small to play a 4-3 DE. We know very little about this player but I’m anxious to see what he can do on special teams and spot duty against Rice and Purdue.

    • domerboyirish - Aug 9, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      I don’t know but the last time I checked a 34 defense in a 43 defense both need two outside linebackers. I’m just saying…

  5. getsome99 - Aug 9, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    The thing to remember about some of the recruiting rankings is it doesn’t account for a players ceiling once he’s been in the program for a couple years. The 5 star recruit is expected to make an impact within the the first 2 years and in many cases, is NFL ready after 3. So the formula at Alabama is bring in 30 new kids, sit and watch one season, start for 2 and leave early for the draft. Most of the 5 star kids who enter the draft after 3 years have already reached their ceiling by this point.

    For ND, it’s a little different. Our kids come and play for 4-5 seasons. So a kid who is a 3 star coming out of high school, may actually be a 4 or 5 star by the time he’s a 4th year junior or 5th year senior. The knock on Alabama players in recent drafts is they come out of college with a low ceiling for improvement once they turn pro. The extra year or two in the program offsets some of our “low” recruiting rankings coming out of high school.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 10, 2014 at 11:55 PM

      Rule of thumb – SEC 3 star is a 5 star the rest of the country. A 5 star SEC Player doesn’t exist outside of the South. A 5 star SEC player can start in the NFL year 2 in college. SEC SEC SEC

      • getsome99 - Aug 11, 2014 at 12:08 AM

        SEC = overrated. Can’t compare to Notre Dame. Notre Dame IS college football. The gold standard in every category.

  6. getsome99 - Aug 9, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    Tyler Eifert was also a 3 star recruit and the 24th ranked TE in his class. Who would have predicted at that time that he would end up being the best of all the TE’s to play for ND?

    • toconnell14 - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      Yes but everyone knew of his potential. He has the speed and strength to be as good as he wanted to be. Ratings don’t determine everything but they are based around some sort of science. Look at what happens with Jhonny Williams, the guy has the speed and size to be as good as Justin Tuck but it all depends on how he can develop. There is logic behind in but you are correct in saying that a star rating isn’t everything

  7. getsome99 - Aug 9, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    And don’t forget the two 3 star QB’s in the Kelly era who beat out multiple 4 and 5 star QB’s for the starting job: Rees and Golson.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 10, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      I am not sold on golson I think he might have worse accuracy than Rees but he can run… He is still a 3 star recruit. He sure in hell isn’t the next coming of Johnny Football.

      • getsome99 - Aug 10, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        The point was Golson is the winningest QB in Notre Dame history and he beat out 5 star Gunner Kiel and 4 star Andrew Hendrix for the starting job in 2012. Rees, who you refer to as MAC talent, outplayed 5 star Dayne Crist, 4 star Hendrix, and 5 star Kiel.

        Tyler Eifert, who was a 3 star recruit, was better than every TE in his class.

        Ishaq Williams, who was a 5 star DE from SEC country, has been a bust so far.

  8. 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Isn’t ishaq from Brooklyn?

    • getsome99 - Aug 10, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      I think you’re right. I got his home state mixed up with the other DE in his class, Aaron Lynch. My bad. Lynch was a bust too though.

  9. 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Isn’t ishaq from Brooklyn?

  10. prancerbyanose - Aug 10, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    This guy is going to be a starting linebacker before the year is out. No way Joe Schmitdt keeps him off the field. (Also no way that Joe Schmidt stays healthy for more than four games either)

    I still say starting linebackers will be: Jaylon Smith, Michael Deeb and Doug Randolph.

    Mark it, dude.


    Fan with no inside information

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 11, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      boy, I’ve been telling everyone who will listen (which isn’t very many people) not to sleep on Deeb and I’m surprised how little we’ve heard or seen of him. I realize the practice videos are heavily edited and compiled to show certain things and not show others, but I’ve only noticed one clip of Deeb which was from the last video and showed him breaking up a pass to Robinson deep in the endzone.

      I hope things fall into place for him and he’s able to see the field this year because he just seems like a kid with a mean streak and there’s nothing better than having an ILB that wakes up angry.

  11. toconnell14 - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    What really frustrates me is that we are putting him behind a guy like Jaylon right now. If everyone is healthy we have John F’ing Turner starting as a linebacker right now. Thats really bad, the guy is like 220 pounds soaking wet. Why wouldn’t we have Randolph at the strong side and have him fight it out with Ben Council? Those two players are high quality athletes. I really don’t know the status of any of the injures and stuff, but ideally the linebacker corps on week one is:
    SAM: Council/Randolph MIKE: Grace WILL: Smith. By the end of the season, Council and Randolph battle is over and Nyles Morgan is splitting time at MLB. I love a guy like Joe Schmitdt but he should be a back up and really shouldn’t be on the field all that much because of his lack of athleticism. I would also like Michael Deeb to show up and take a bit of control during summer as well.

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