After a Chilly Start, the Cold Doesn’t Bother Randolph Kpai

February 19, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Randolph Kpai’s father, Erick Kpai, left his family home in Liberia and came to Chicago seeking a better life. It wasn’t easy, but it was for the best.

Once settled, he called for his brood to join him in the Windy City. Randolph, his mother, Utee Kpai, and brother arrived in February. It was snowing.

The average winter temperature in the west African country of Liberia checks in at 82. It’s 26 in Chicago.

“I had never seen snow before and it was cold and chilly and I didn’t like it at first. It was always warm in Liberia. But I got use to it,” Kpai told HN.

The family eventually moved to Sioux Fall, SD, where relatives lived. Randolph traded soccer, popular in his native country, for football, the king of sports in the United States. The switch paid off.

Kpai attended Iowa’s junior day on Saturday. There, the Sioux Falls Washington High sophomore linebacker picked up his first scholarship offer. The Hawkeyes moved to the top list.

“Something that stood out would be how welcoming everyone was when I got there. I learned a lot at the junior day. One thing I liked is how much care they put into the players’ recovery and nutrition,” he said.

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Kpai (6-3, 185) spent time with Iowa assistants LeVar Woods and Seth Wallace during the junior day. Woods recruits Sioux Falls for the Hawkeyes, while Wallace coaches linebackers, the position at which they see him lining up.

“It was a great experience. I learned a lot and it’s nice getting to know the coaches and the staff,” Kpai said.

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He’s a well-rounded athlete, having also played running back in high school. He ran sprints for the track team last spring and has wrestled in the past.

Sioux Falls Washington has been one of the top programs in this part of the country. The Warriors fell just short of a fourth state championship in a row, losing by six points in the title game last fall.

The Hawkeyes have built a strong relationship with the Washington program and coach Chad Stadem. They worked hard on trying to land brothers Matt and Will Farniok, who ended up at Nebraska. They broke through last year, picking up a commitment from linebacker Seth Benson, who emerged during his first season on campus.

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“I didn’t get to see Seth during my visit, although it would have been nice. It means a lot that he’s doing well there. Seth is one of my role models and I’m happy for him,” Kpai said.

Here’s a look at Kpai’s sophomore statistics:

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