John E. Hoover: Oklahoma State's Randle could benefit from another year at school
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Columnist
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
1/01/13 at 5:39 AM
Go to John E. Hoover's blogOriginal Print Headline: Randle could benefit from another year
DALLAS - Joseph Randle has gotten lots of advice over the past few months.
So, with the calendar now turned to 2013, here's a little more.
Randle needs to be a senior at Oklahoma State University next year, not a rookie in some NFL camp.
"I'm undecided right now," Randle said Monday during interviews at Cotton Bowl Stadium, a day before the Cowboys take on Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
- Life is good as a college senior - very good if you're a BMOC like Randle - and it's anything but as an underage NFL rookie.
- Randle is two semesters away from graduating college with a degree in economics. That's important in a family where Randle's sister has a master's degree, one brother is an engineer working toward his doctorate and another brother has a criminal justice degree.
- Whatever NFL money Randle may be hearing will be there this year probably won't actually be there until next year.
Undecided or not, Randle knows New Year's Day could very well be his last day as an Oklahoma State Cowboy.
Randle said he'd rather talk about the Boilermakers than his potential NFL future, and he seemed to send out mixed signals.
On one hand, it sounds likely he'll return.
"I've had such a good time at Oklahoma State it would be very hard for me to leave," he said. "I will say that. ... It would be very hard for me to leave a place like this. I have had the time of my life at Oklahoma State. I want it to continue."
On the other hand, it seems he's preparing to make a splash in the NFL.
"Any time you take another step, it's always (uncertain) like that," he said. He said he hasn't run a 40-yard dash since he's been at OSU, but said "I'll definitely be ready" for the NFL Scouting Combine.
Coach Mike Gundy said he hasn't spoken with Randle specifically - he said those in the industry come in to give preseason presentations - but he will ask to meet with him when players get back to Stillwater for the spring semester.
The deadline for underclassmen to declare eligible for the draft is Jan. 15.
Frankly, it's not a great year to be a running back in the draft. According to ESPN's Scouts Inc., the top-rated back, North Carolina's Giovani Bernard, isn't projected to go until the second round. Randle is the No. 7 running back, though things always change before the draft - up or down.
"It's gonna be another 20 or 30 picks lower than what they tell you," Gundy said. "That's the way it happens."
That's because underclassmen aren't evaluated until they officially declare. The more that do declare - the '11 class set a record of 56, which was broken last year with 65 - the more borderline players will drop.
"A player comes in and they say he's early second round, but then if he declares for the draft, in my history with it, that's when they start coming in and timing you and evaluating you - height, weight - and they start picking you apart."
Gundy said any advice he could give to Randle would be "a waste of oxygen" because players "are not gonna listen to us." Guys who want to leave already have made up their minds; they've likely been given an inaccurate assessment of their value by an agent or even family members who "want something out of it," Gundy said.
The only point Gundy will make to Randle is that of OSU's five first-round picks in the last four NFL Drafts - Brandon Pettigrew, Dez Bryant, Russell Okung, Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon - all five explored leaving a year early, all five got a fairly high projected grade, and four of the five came back to OSU for another year and got picked higher than originally projected.
In other words, they were drafted higher and got more money after another year of college football than they would have gotten had they left early.
"We've never had a guy that didn't do better and get more up-front money when he came back," Gundy said.
Pettigrew, Okung and Weeden improved their draft stock with great senior years. Blackmon was a fourth-year junior who also got a draft boost from a big season. Dez Bryant left after playing three years, when he was first eligible for the draft, and he was best served to leave after his NCAA snag anyway.
Randle sees other benefits to coming back than just his draft slot - the kind of benefits OSU fans will want to hear.
"I'm sure it'll be a great season for next year if everybody came back, because we have a lot of talent, and a lot of talent coming back," he said. "We would definitely have a bright future for next year. National championship and a Heisman and all that kind of stuff. We'll be right in the conversation."
Also, Randle goes into the bowl game with 3,019 career rushing yards. He has a very good shot at Thurman Thomas' school record of 4,595 yards.
"That's exciting stuff," Randle said. "But it's always gonna be about winning."
Anyone who thinks that isn't a factor doesn't truly comprehend how most running backs are wired.
"I'm not really a big 'me' guy. It's all about the team and I just want the team to go out on top," Randle said.