You can not anoint JUCO sensation Zach Mettenberger as the quarterback of the near future at LSU quite yet.
Although Mettenberger arrives a much-heralded addition in the 2011 signing class along with another pro style passer Stephen Rivers, Jerrard Randall might have something to say about the quarterback pecking order.
Randall (6â€™1-185), a dual-threat talent out of Chaminade Madonna High School in Hollywood, Florida, signed with LSU in late March to become the 23rd member of the 2011 recruiting class.
Towing a truckload of talent, Randall is the nationâ€™s 8th-ranked prep quarterback.
â€œHe is a special kid, one of those freaks athletically, being able to do anything,â€ beamed Chaminade head coach Tim Tyrrell. â€œHe is a quarterback, he just happens to run a 4.3 (forty).â€
Tyrrell, along with offensive coordinator Matt Saunders, have tutored the 4-star recruit for the last 2 seasons and have forged a tight bond.
â€œWeâ€™re very close. Heâ€™s a 'yes sir, no sir' very polite kid, very respectful,â€ Tyrrell added. â€œHe and I are very close. Heâ€™s very close to his mother. When mom talks, he listens.â€
Randallâ€™s path had him headed to Oregon before a last-minute switch that allowed him to be a Tiger. LSU assistant coach Billy Gonzales is the primary reason Jerrard chose to wear purple and gold. â€œ(Gonzales) was at Florida for Jerrardâ€™s junior year. He originally committed to Oregon very early,â€ Tyrrell recalled. â€œHeâ€™s a very loyal kid. He said that if Oregon doesnâ€™t work out, he wanted to go to LSU.â€
Gonzales stayed the course with the young quarterback following his commitment to the Ducks, keeping the lines of communication open. â€œHe really liked Coach Gonzales,â€ the head coach said. â€œHe didnâ€™t talk to anyone except Gonzales. He felt comfortable with him. Gonzales would talk about anything but football.â€
Oregon head coach, Chip Kelly seemed thrilled to have Randall as the heir apparent to current starter Darron Thomas, but the Ducks werenâ€™t willing to wait for the late qualifier. LSU was suddenly in the catbird seat.
Randall spoke to Coach Les Miles on the phone and developed a relationship with him as well.
Jerrardâ€™s recruiting trip to Baton Rouge left a lasting impression on the young, budding star.
â€œHe has a different side of him,â€ Tyrrell chuckled. â€œHeâ€™s got a big smile and jokes around a lot. Heâ€™ll like Baton Rouge. Heâ€™s an inner city kid that adapted to a Catholic school. Heâ€™ll adapt to anything.â€
A former Chaminade Madonna teammate, defensive tackle Jamel Williams, is now playing at Southern University in Baton Rouge and played a role in Randall's decision.
The southern charm and enchanting personality of the fans won him over. â€œHe loved the people, the hospitality. Everybody was nice," Tyrell said. "They didnâ€™t even know that he was a football player.â€
Randall possesses a quality lacking in all other quarterbackâ€™s on the LSU roster, including the new arrivals. Besides a powerful arm, he is a legitimate running threat that defenses will have to plan to stop. Current LSU starter, senior Jordan Jefferson, is a mobile quarterback but doesnâ€™t have the game changing running skills of Randall.
Despite his blistering speed, Randall is not a one-trick pony. Jerrard is gifted with a slingshot arm. He played baseball for 2 years in high school. The game on the diamond
attracted Randall but he lost interest. It wasnâ€™t challenging enough for him. He could steal any base at any time. The one-time centerfielder that knew he wanted a greater challenge. His future was on the gridiron.
During the Joe Montana Elite Seven camp in Hawaii last summer, Jerrard opened eyes with that impressive arm, tossing for a high among all of the talented quarterbacks in attendance with an 82-yard long throw. He also has the ability to improvise when necessary. â€œHe has good mechanics,â€ Tyrrell said. â€œHis footwork and arm are very good. Heâ€™s been well schooled (by Matt Saunders).â€
The young signal caller has run a variety of offenses. "We run a multiple I, with a lot of 3 and 4 receiver sets. He moves around a lot. He can adapt. He originally ran the Wing-T,â€ Tyrrell laughed. â€œHe can do a lot of things.â€
Tyrrell is familiar with the quarterbacks at LSU as well as the offense. He is also familiar with the fact that Russell Shepard arrived 2 seasons ago as a much-hyped quarterback before making a switch to wide receiver. He insists that Randall is strictly a quarterback. â€œHeâ€™s a complete different style (than Shepard). Heâ€™s a drop back, play action quarterback first. He knows his throws. He can make the hard throws. Heâ€™ll get you out of trouble.â€
Randall is not the flashy â€œlook at meâ€ type of athlete. He was a big fan of Charlie Ward, the former Florida State Heisman Trophy winner. Now he loves to watch Ben Rothlisberger play.
Because of Randallâ€™s skills, natural comparisons have been made to NFL star quarterback Michael Vick, but Tyrrell sees a likeness to another former NFL superstar. â€œTo me, he is Steve Young. When in doubt, he can scramble. He will sit in the pocket. his athletic ability is his last option. He will throw the ball away or heâ€™ll take sacks. Heâ€™s smart. He watches lots of film.â€
Randall is a leader. When he talks, people listen. He corrects the offensive line when things break down. Having played free safety, he has earned the respect of the defense, too.
In spite of his slight build, Randall is tough and does not go out of bounds easily.
During the 2009 playoff season against Pahokee High, one of Floridaâ€™s powerhouses, Jerrard flashed some toughness and improvisational skills.
â€œHis junior year, we didnâ€™t run him much. We used him more as a thrower,â€ his head coach explained. â€œWe did run read option. On the 2nd play of the game, on a 3rd and one, he cuts it back, lowers his shoulder, running over the safety. He went 80 yards.â€ Jerrard finished the game with 275 yards rushing and over 300 yards through the air.
Randall tied a Broward County record this past season, throwing for 423 yards and 5 touchdowns in one game against Archbishop Carroll, all with 3-step and 5-step drops.
Tyrrell feels once under the tutelage of LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt, Jerrard can easily add 10-15 pounds to his athletic frame and not lose a step. â€œHe has a strong upper body. He lifts weights,â€ Tyrrell said.
The Chaminade Lions are a team that annually produces college talent. Eleven signed in the 2011 class including Curt Evans, a 3-star wideout who went to Boston College, Johnathan Aiken, a 3-star signed by Rutgers and offensive lineman Gregory Lewis, an Indiana signee. Fourteen Lions signed scholarship offers in 2010.
Tyrrell thinks that Randall is stepping into an ideal under new LSU offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe. â€œIâ€™ve talked to Steve. Heâ€™s very knowledgeable,â€ said Tyrrell. â€œIt could be a perfect relationship. The LSU staff is a lot like ours. The coaches can get in your face and correct you, but when practice is over, they have their arm around you. Itâ€™s just like home.â€
Both LSU and Randall hope the young signalcaller has found the perfect new address.
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