Randle played quarterback during his senior season and on the year he completed 156-of-260 passes for 2,461 yards and 20 touchdowns. He added another 683 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on 101 scampers, and for his efforts he was named Class 5A All-State as an athlete.
Despite playing quarterback, though, college coaches are in pursuit of Randle (6-2, 195, 4.5) for his ability to catch the football rather than throw it. As a junior, the 5-star receiver caught 55 passes for 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns which put him on the map as one of the nation’s top overall players for the Class of 2009.
Coaches from coast to coast have been in pursuit of Randle for a couple of years now and with signing day less than four weeks away there are a select few that are still in the hunt for the standout performer’s signature.
A couple of those coaches, Miles and LSU wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy, spent the entire day up in Bastrop on Tuesday according to a family member close to the situation and the visit was a success for the LSU staff.
“I talked to my dad and Rueben on Wednesday and they both told me that LSU has done their job,” said Rueben’s brother, Deatrick Mitchell. “They’ve sold the program and they’ve sold themselves on them and they’ve made them comfortable if that is the decision that Rueben decides to make with LSU.
“My dad said there really isn’t much more they can do because they’ve done everything as far as getting them acclimated to the school, with the academics and showing them how Rueben would fit into the offense.”
Mitchell said that Randle was already familiar with much of what LSU had to offer since he made several unofficial visits to Baton Rouge the last two years including two in a five-week span.
Randle attended the LSU/Alabama game for an unofficial visit on Nov. 8 and he also made a pass by campus to visit with the coaches in December when he went to Baton Rouge to see a doctor for his hamstring injury that bothered him much of the season.
While those visits were beneficial in getting Randle and his family acclimated to the surroundings, the in-home visit gave Miles and McCarthy a chance to go into more depth over something else that opened Randle’s eyes a bit more.
“The perception of LSU’s offense is run, run, run – two back – but they were showing Rueben where over half of their plays are designed for three-wide,” Mitchell said. “That was a misconception that people had about the offense because (Charles) Scott had a great year and they had a young quarterback.
“That actually opened a light to my brother because he hadn’t looked it at that way until he saw it on paper. It’s easy to look at it on TV and think one thing because you don’t keep things on paper, but when they were able to show him all of the three-wide sets it opened his eyes to their offense and explained more than he knew.”
The comfort level that Randle feels with the coaches and schools is going to play a critical role in his decision and Mitchell says that Miles and McCarthy did a good job of making everyone feel at ease during their extended visit on Tuesday.
“They were there from like nine in the morning and they didn’t leave until late that night, some time after 10,” Mitchell said. “D.J. had actually made a big impression early on dating back to last year when he started communicating with my dad and brother. They were pretty comfortable with him.
“We talked to coach Miles at the Alabama game when we were there, but by him coming and doing the in-home it helped out a lot, especially with my mom. She was able to sit and talk with him and ask questions as well. The thing that he did was he didn’t come in as coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers. He came in as a concerned educator and showed how he would be able to take care of Rueben if he was to go there instead of Rueben needs to come here because of me. It was more of if he comes here I’ll take care of him and that helped a lot.”
Auburn is a new school trying to join the mix as assistant coach Trooper Taylor, who was in Bastrop earlier this week, is trying to get the Tigers from the Plains in the game. Taylor recruited Randle for Oklahoma State and he was scheduled to go to Stillwater this weekend, but when Taylor left for Auburn the Cowboys were dropped from consideration.
Mitchell said the news of a visit to Auburn was the first he had heard of and it may be too late for Taylor and the Tigers to enter the picture.
“Unless they decided to set something up this morning for Auburn, I don’t know anything about that,” said Mitchell. “My dad had said that he can finally get some rest this weekend so he isn’t planning on going anywhere unless that changed. I know Trooper is trying to get in on him now but Auburn wasn’t even recruiting my brother so I think it’s too late.”
With four weekends left before signing day for Randle to take official visits, coaches from two other schools have mentioned specific dates that they would like to get Randle on campus.
“My dad told me last night that Alabama is trying to push for him to visit next week (1/16) and LSU is trying to get him to come in for the next weekend (1/23) but nothing is set,” said Mitchell. “My dad did admit that he’s seen more of LSU and that there were some things that he didn’t get to see at Alabama so they may go for that visit but it’s not set in stone yet.
“As far as LSU, they don’t think there is anything more to see that they haven’t seen so I don’t know if they’re going to get an official or not. But the thing is on those unofficial visits you don’t get an itinerary and you don’t get the time with everyone that you can get on an official so that’s why I was telling them they need to take one to LSU too for a better comparison.”
So, at this point in the game, does Mitchell have a feel for which schools are seriously in the mix?
“At this point, it’s really hard to say because a few months back I thought it was all LSU and Alabama,” said Mitchell. “Then he went to Oklahoma and liked that a lot, and now he’s recently brought Miami back into the mix after Pat Nix got fired. Like I tell them, though, time is winding down and the pressure’s about to be mounting. I think those four are the main ones right now.”