Freshman Focus: Doug Randolph

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Brian Kelly and his coaching staff seem to be collecting “Big Skill” athletes, a player profile that targets athletes that stand 6-foot-3 or taller, and head to college at a well put together 230-plus pounds. In Virginia’s Doug Randolph, Kelly has plucked another recruit in that mold, with the multi-sport athlete a perfect fit for the program.

Randolph begins his college career as an outside linebacker, an edge player that can provide a pass rush threat, but also with a frame that’ll add weight and stand up to the rigors of playing at the line of scrimmage. A former teammate of CJ Prosise at Woodberry Forest in Virginia, Randolph brings another impressive athlete into the fold.

RECRUITING PEDIGREE

Randolph was a Stanford commitment until September, when he backed away from his commitment to the Cardinal and pledged to the Irish just a few days later. A US Army All-American, Randolph is in Rivals’ top 150, and profiles out as a top 250 guy and a four star recruit.

Randolph’s offer list isn’t the longest, but it did include Maryland, Boston College, Virginia, and West Virginia to go along with Stanford.

EARLY PLAYING TIME OPPORTUNITIES

There seems to be a bit of a logjam at the Cat linebacker position, where Prince Shembo sits in front of Ishaq Williams and rising sophomore Romeo Okwara, who was too good to keep off the field last season as a 17-year-old. But that doesn’t mean that Randolph won’t find his way onto the field, at least on special teams.

Looking into the future to ’14, the outside linebacker position will need to replace both Shembo and Danny Spond, with guys like Ben Councell and Anthony Rabasa not yet making an impact. Whether that means Randolph works his way into that rotation, or perhaps slides inside where the depth chart is even thinner remains to be seen.

Randolph seems like one of the prospects in this class that Irish fans seem to know the least about. We’ll get a feel very early in camp whether or not he’s a guy that caught the eye of this coaching staff. If he’s got the size and athleticism to help a defense that’s very talented on the edges, that bodes very well for the future.

PROJECTING THE FUTURE

One of the things that this coaching staff likes the most about Randolph is his versatility. Whether it’s as a pass rusher or linebacker in space, Randolph’s clearly a guy that excites this staff with the multiple things he can do.

“Dual athlete, excellent lacrosse player, played basketball, can do a number of different things,” Kelly said back on Signing Day. “He’s somebody that’s long at 6’3″, very versatile, can stand up or put his hand down, he gives us that kind of flexibility at that position. Great student, great family.”

The great student, great family quote wasn’t just lip service. One thing to expect out of Randolph is a cerebral nature on the football field. Both his parents and two siblings are doctors, giving you an idea of the communal IQ level sitting around the dinner table at the Randolph household. Those kind of smarts will do Randolph well on the football field, learning the intricacies of the outside linebacker position, one of the more challenging spots in the Irish scheme.

(This is a complete hunch, but if we’re looking for athletes that might be able to play inside linebacker, Randolph wouldn’t be the worst candidate. He can run, he’s got the ability to add bulk, and if he can play with his hands, he’ll have a chance to transition if the staff feels the depth chart needs some inside linebackers.)

Whatever the position, Randolph will have to battle it out with some high profile players to find his way into the starting lineup. His first opportunity will be in ’14, where Ishaq Williams will be starting his final season and very well may have the heft to be shifted down to defensive end. Expect the versatility that Randolph brought to the lacrosse field, basketball court, and both sides of the football (he was an excellent tight end as well) to come in handy.