There’s no question that Bryan Randall qualifies as one of the top Tech quarterbacks of all-time. The 2004 ACC Player of the Year has to be in the top handful of players at any position that comes to mind for most fans from years past.
Randall played professionally all over the world – from various stints in the NFL, to indoor leagues that included a tour in China. He played for love of the game long after reaching his sport’s upper levels.
We called Bryan at his home in Newport News. In part one we discussed his time on the Tech basketball team, switching conferences, and Seth Greenberg.
The Hokies won the 2004 ACC Championship largely thanks to this throw from Randall to Eddie Royal. The two connected on a number of big plays during the ’04 season.
SI: Coming out of high school you were a big two-sport star (basketball and football). Which sport was your first love?
“First love was basketball. I didn’t actually pick up football until middle school as far as playing competitively. I always focused on basketball with my Dad being a basketball coach.”
SI: When you first started football did you take right to it?
“Yeah it kind of came naturally. I played all sports so it was kind of like I’ll just use my athletic ability when I first got started. It’s funny because when I first started playing in middle school I didn’t know how to put the pads in the pants or how the shoulder pads and stuff went on [laughs]. I mean it really was brand new to me.”
SI: I’m curious about your time on the basketball team at Tech. You played about half a season after not having played for quite a while. What was it like to get back into it after such a long break?
“Man I’ll tell you that was one of my top times at Tech. I really, really enjoyed myself. And you’re right, because I had taken off of competitive basketball for some years before that. I mean it was always in me. We would go to the Rec Center and stuff and play some of the football players.
But to actually be suiting up and on that court, being able to do something that I wanted to do going into school, man, it was like a dream come true. It was even more enjoyable than I could have ever hoped for.
I was definitely winded. Coming from football it was a whole different type of being in shape. Starting right after football I didn’t have much time off. I went back early during winter break…and I just kind of hit the ground running.”
Editor’s Note: Bryan averaged 12.7 minutes per game over 18 contests in 2003-04. He averaged 3.1 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game.
This was Seth Greenberg’s first team in Blacksburg and only team in the Big East.
The Hokies qualified for the conference tournament for the first and only time during Tech’s membership in the Big East that season. They beat Rutgers in the opening round then lost to Pittsburgh. Virginia Tech would join the ACC in 2004.
SI: How did that come about you joining the basketball team?
“Bryant Matthews (22.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG) was a star on that team and he and I were good friends. He really just called me out of the blue after football and he was like, ‘Look man are you trying to play?’ because we had talked about it. It was never really on my mind to even try it…especially during that year with the way that our football season had gone.
Editor’s Note: The Hokies finished the football season a disappointing 8-5 overall in 2003 after racing out to a 6-0 start and a No. 3 national ranking. Bryan was caught up in the losses and a quarterback battle that saw him rotate with true freshman Marcus Vick.
“We had a bad season and I don’t know if I should be thinking about basketball right now. He said, “Look man, if you’re trying to do it coach said he’d be willing to let you do it, to let you come on out. I’m gonna have him call you.”
In my mind I’m thinking like, ‘Could I really do this after all this time?’
It kind of just happened out of the blue but Bryant Matthews is the catalyst for what got things started.”
SI: What kind of coach was Seth Greenberg and is it crazy to you that he’s a big personality on ESPN now?
“You know, it’s not. Being a coach’s son I’ve always just had that knack for being coached. I knew immediately when I met coach Greenberg the type of coach that he was and how the players respected him. I couldn’t have asked for a better coach to kind of make that transition of even getting an opportunity to be able to play basketball.”
SI: You were part of the transition from the Big East to the ACC. What was that like learning a whole new group of opponents and traveling to different places?
“It was cool actually. After a while, I’m not gonna say it gets boring [playing the same opponents] but you get used to seeing the same things, seeing the same defenses. When that’s the case it gets tough trying to figure out new things to scheme on people, them starting to figure you out and certain teams have your number. What can we do different this year or what type of wrinkle are we gonna pull out?
When you get a chance to see new faces, new defenses and people that have never played against you before. In sports, that’s just like the NCAA Tournament. Some teams match up better than others. It was kind of just fresh and it was still very exciting.”
Stay with All Hokies for Part II of our interview with Bryan Randall later this week