’19 IL DE Keith Randolph Discusses New Offer from Hawkeyes
Keith Randolph Jr. tried football when he was 10 years old. He didn’t like it and walked away.
He focused his attention on his first love – basketball. He was good at it.
Midway through his high school career at Belleville (IL) West, his father, Keith Randolph Sr., suggested he give football another try. Dad saw the size and athleticism transferring well from the court to the gridiron.
Randolph Jr. is glad he listened to dad.
In just his second season playing football, he has shown he’s legitimate college prospect. Iowa offered him a scholarship on Sunday. He already held opportunities from Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue, Boise State, Indiana, Minnesota, Rutgers, Virginia and others. The Hoosiers, Hawkeyes and Spartans all jumped in since the start of September.
During the summer, Randolph Jr. had named a Top 3 of Illinois, Purdue and Wyoming. Things have changed.
“When I released my Top 3, those were the teams that really stood out to me. But with the new offers coming in the last few months, I want to look into those more,” he told HN.
Friday night, Iowa recruiting coordinator and assistant defensive line coach Kelvin Bell scouted Randolph Jr.’s game in person. He called to offer the scholarship two days later.
“It was a long process, but I’m excited about it,” Randolph Jr. said of a relationship with Iowa that began last school year.
Randolph Jr. who is 6-5, started last football season at 220 pounds. He’s been playing this campaign at about 260.
“(The Hawkeyes) wanted to see if I could get my body where they need me. They like how I move. They want fast linemen. I get past the line of scrimmage fast. That’s what they really like. They like my athleticism and how I use it on the field,” he said.
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He still stands out in basketball, helping lead Belleville West to a Class 4A state championship with a win against Chicago’s Whitney Young in the title game last winter.
Playing basketball aids his athleticism, quickness and speed on the football field. It’s a pretty amazing ascension for a guy that didn’t play football for his first two years of high school.
“My dad told me I would be a hell of a defensive end if gave it a shot. My (football) coach (Cameron Pettus) was telling me that a whole bunch of schools were showing interest even before I started playing football. My basketball recruitment was slow,” Randolph Jr said.
College coaches are intrigued by his upside. Most of what he’s doing on the field these days stems from pure athletic ability.
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“Honestly, the sky is the limit. I’m still learning the techniques of the game. There’s just so much you have to learn. I think when I start learning the football part of football, I’ll be a great player. That’s my goal. There’s still a lot I have to work on, though,” he said.
The new interest has Randolph Jr. slowing down his recruiting process.
“Honestly, I’m going to take my time with it. I released my Top 3 during the summer and I felt like my recruitment was going to die down after that. It hasn’t. It just blew back up. So, I’m going to have to take some time with the process and reevaluate some things,” he said.
He hasn’t set up any visits but would like to use his five officials. He’s just been having a tough time deciding which of the programs will get them.
He’s looking for a college that shows him he’s needed. He’d also like a chance at early playing time. Most importantly, he wants to be somewhere he can develop.
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“I want a place that will help me grow as a player because I have a lot of growing to do. I want a place that will help me grow to my full potential. I want a school that has that brotherhood, family type bond. I want to be able to talk to my position coach and teammates but also anyone associated with the program,” he said.
Randolph Jr., who is looking to major in TV Journalism, has had a fondness for Iowa since he took a school field trip to campus during his sophomore year.
“I just fell in love with the school. Now that they’ve offered, it’s just like a dream come true because I’ve always loved Iowa. I’ve always loved the Hawkeyes. It’s a great school, a great program, great coaches,” he said.
He also looks up to Hawkeye sophomore A.J. Epenesa, who played for nearby Edwardsville High.
“He’s like a hometown hero down here even though he’s from Edwardsville. I played against him in basketball. I look up to him as a defensive end. So, I’m just grateful for the offer. I like Iowa a lot,” he said.
Rivals and 247 rank Randolph Jr. as a three-star prospect. The former shows him as the No. 49 strong-side defensive end nationally in the ’19 class, while the latter puts him at 63.