After Michael Vick, Bryan Randall indelibly left his mark on Virginia Tech Football history
When Virginia Tech joined the ACC in 2004, it was generally expected that it would take some time for the sports programs to catch up to the rest of the league. Bryan Randall would have none of that.
In Tech’s first season as a member of the ACC, Randall led the Hokies on a magical run. Tech finished the season as ACC champions and finished 10-3 overall, including a narrow loss to undefeated Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.
Before he became an all-time great in Blacksburg, Randall set the Virginia high school ranks ablaze. He set several school records at Bruton High School in Williamsburg, Va. including total passing yards (6,508) and total offense (8,034 yards). He became the first player in Commonwealth history to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in the same season, then became the first to accomplish the feat in back-to-back seasons.
On the final pass of his high school career, Randall tossed his 47th career touchdown pass. That’s yet another Bruton record. On the defensive side of the ball he racked up more than 150 tackles and intercepted eight passes.
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His talents also extended to the basketball court and the track. In 2000, Randall helped lead Bruton to the Class AA state championship. He was named the Group AA Basketball Player of the Year for his efforts. He was honored with just about any all-state accolades you can imagine in both sports and ,oh by the way, Randall won a state title in the
Needless to say, Bryan Randall was an enormously hyped recruit when he arrived in Blacksburg on the heels of Michael Vick’s dazzling career.
In 2001, Randall saw limited playing-time behind Vick’s much-maligned successor, Grant Noel.
As a sophomore, Randall got his opportunity when Noel was injured in the second game of the season against No. 14 LSU. He helped lead the Hokies to an 8-0 start before the team lost four of its final five games down the stretch.
His junior year was a strange one. Despite showing plenty of promise, Randall found himself splitting time with another talented quarterback named Marcus Vick.
Just a redshirt freshman, Vick took snaps at quarterback and even lined up at receiver in Tech’s bowl game that season. Ill-timed interceptions prevented Randall from gaining a stranglehold on the job, but Vick had the same issue.
Randall joined the Tech basketball team after the football season wrapped up. He played in 18 games for the Hokies averaged 3.1 PPG. His leadership skills were a valuable part of Seth Greenberg’s first team and helped the Hokies qualify for the Big East Tournament for the only time in school history.
The offseason also saw Vick get into legal trouble as he so often has throughout his life. He was dismissed from the team for the fall of 2004, and Randall took full advantage.
After a tough opening loss to No. 1 USC at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. the Hokies won two games against Western Michigan and Duke. The Duke game was the first ACC football game in Tech history.
The following week against N.C. State, things took a step back.
Randall and the offense sputtered all day, and a late surge fell short as a Brandon Pace field goal try went wayward. The Hokies lost 17-16 and a rivalry game against No. 6 West Virginia loomed the next week.
Randall tossed tow interceptions, but ran for 70 yards on a rainy afternoon in Lane Stadium. The defense and special teams did their thing and Tech pulled the upset 19-13. That set a terrific run in motion as the Hokies reeled off eight consecutive victories.
Randall threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns in a tremendous comeback victory over Georgia Tech on a Thursday night in Atlanta.
Tech next knocked off No. 16 Virginia on a day when Randall completed 16-of-22 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
That set up a date between the No. 10 Hokies and the No. 11 Miami Hurricanes in the regular season finale at the Orange Bowl. The winner would be the ACC champions. Defense was the order of the day, but Randall still passed for 148 yards an two touchdowns including the deciding score early in the fourth quarter.
Tech drew a Sugar Bowl berth against undefeated Auburn. The No. 3 Tigers led 16-0 heading into the fourth quarter before the Hokies finally rallied. Randall found Josh Morgan for two touchdowns, but the Tech rally fell just short 16-13. Randall passed for 299 yards with two scores and two interceptions while running for 45 yards in the final game of his Tech career.
His season numbers were 2,264 passing yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 511 yards and three scores on the ground. That performance was good enough to earn Randall ACC Player of the Year honors as well as Offensive Player of the Year.
Bryan Randall currently holds two Tech records with the highest completion percentage over a season (.637 in 2002) and the most touchdowns in a game with five against Syracuse in 2002. He ranks third in total passing all-time for the Hokies with 6,508 yards as well as third in total offense with 8,034.
Randall went undrafted to the NFL, but signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons as a backup to Michael Vick. He spent the season on the practice squad and served another season on the practice squad with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He later spent a preseason with the Pittsburgh Steelers before stints in various professional leagues including the CFL and numerous indoor leagues.
Randall’s legacy in Blacksburg was cemented long ago, but the accolades keep coming.
In 2015, Randall was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. This spring, he was inducted into the Virginia High School League Hall of Fame.
Perhaps, this quote from Frank Beamer that appeared in a USA Today story sums it up best.
"“Bryan is everything you want in a college football player. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a kid who is more respected within the football team than he is.”"
There’s little doubt that he remains respected outside the team too.