OSU running back Joseph Randle to enter NFL draft
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2013
1/10/13 at 10:27 AM
Oklahoma State batted .500 in retaining underclassman football players who had an eye on making themselves eligible for the NFL draft.
Five days after junior cornerback Justin Gilbert let it be known that he was returning for his senior season, junior running back Joseph Randle indicated he is turning professional.
“I’ve decided to pursue my dream of playing in the NFL,” Randle posted on his Twitter account Thursday morning, adding that he will always be a Cowboy.
Randle thanked “Cowboy Nation” for what he said where the best three years of his life and he expressed thanks to OSU coaches for the opportunity.
Randle ranked 21st nationally in rushing and led the Big 12 in rushing during the regular season. He ran for 1,417 yards -- an average of 109 per game -- and scored 14 touchdowns.
The news that Randle is entering the NFL draft popped after Randle sent an Oklahoman reporter a direct message on Twitter about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, saying he “made my decision not to come back.”
If Randle had opted to return to school, he would enter the 2013 season as the NCAA’s active career leader in rushing yards (3,085) and rushing touchdowns (40).
Michigan State junior Le’Veon Bell, who ranked ahead of Randle on the career rushing yards list, earlier announced that he was headed to the NFL.
Randle ends his OSU career as the eighth-leading rusher in the history of a school once known as “Tailback U.” Only Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas and Terry Miller scored more rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys. Randle also ranks 12th among OSU players all-time in career receptions and 18th in total offense.
In October, OSU coach Mike Gundy was asked if Randle is yet comparable to great Cowboy running backs of the past. Gundy said it’s unfair to compare anybody to Sanders. But the coach said Randle is a lot like Thomas.
“And if he will continue to play at a high level consistently, then he gets closer to being like Thurman,” Gundy said. “Both of them are very intelligent. Both of them are good blockers. Both of them are good receivers. Neither one of them have just complete breakaway speed, but they run well and keep their pads down and they are both mentally tough.”
Now at the front of the line to be Randle’s replacement in the starting lineup is former Union High School running back Jeremy Smith. The senior-to-be has split time with Randle in recent seasons, but was not healthy during the 2012 season and was limited to 70 carries for 371 yards. Smith’s yards per carry average (5.3) was virtually identical to Randle’s. Third-team running back Desmond Roland averaged 6.5 yards per carry while playing primarily when games were out of hand.
Gundy was asked in November if Randle wanted to have a senior season at OSU.
“I hope so,” the coach said. “At the end of the year, you have to look at everything involved. Joe has got a chance to play at the next level someday based on (the NFL’s) interpretation of him. I think he needs another year because he has really separated himself this year from where he was last year.”
Randle is ranked fifth among junior running back prospects by draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.
OSU's Joseph Randle celebrates a win against Purdue in Dallas for the Heart of Dallas Bowl. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World