May 8, 2008

Rebels remain on Randle's mind

Rueben Randle has had about a month to digest his trip to Ole Miss back in April.

The five-star wide receiver from Bastrop, La., left with Rams coach Brad Bradshaw, and Bastrop four-star defensive DeQuinta Jones early one morning, arrived in Oxford around noon, met with the Rebel coaches, watched practice, ate dinner with Ole Miss cornerback/Bastrop native Marshay Green and then made the drive back to northeast Louisiana.

Still, Randle, ranked as the No. 6 overall prospect in the country and the No. 1 wide receiver in the country by, remembers that whirlwind day fondly, and Ole Miss has clearly positioned itself as a major player for Randle's considerable services.

"It was a great trip," Randle said Thursday night, sipping a soda and listening to Usher while taking a break from spring practice and his schoolwork. "The coaches there were fun to be around. Coach (Houston) Nutt was great. He's a lively guy. I liked the way the team practiced. I liked the way they competed. They got after it, but they were having fun. That was a fun thing to me."

During his meeting with Nutt, Randle said, the former Arkansas coach said he envisioned Randle's role in the Ole Miss offense as similar to the role former Razorback wide receiver Marcus Monk had during Nutt's days in Fayetteville. The only difference, Nutt told Randle, was that the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Randle had a chance to be a more dynamic overall player than Monk.

"I thought that was pretty nice," Randle said. "For a coach to say that about me when I'm just a junior told me what I can be at the next level if I continue to work hard and develop."

While the Rebels have put themselves very much in the race for Randle's services, the competition promises to be fierce. Randle also visited Mississippi State and Alabama this spring, and the trip to Tuscaloosa stood out.

"It was fun," Randle said. "I sat down with the coaches and saw the new offensive coordinator (Jim McElwain) they're bringing in from Fresno State. The offense they're running is similar to ours. Coach Bradshaw was asking questions about it.

"Ole Miss has different varieties in their offense, where running backs could be quarterbacks. Alabama does a lot of screens with receivers in the slot."

Ole Miss' use of the "Wild Rebel" formation, a spin-off of the "Wild Hog" offense Nutt and Darren McFadden made famous at Arkansas the past couple of years, could be a positive for the Rebels in the battle for Randle. Randle will be playing quarterback for the Rams this year, and several programs _ most notably Stanford _ are recruiting Randle as a quarterback. Randle said he'd prefer to play wide receiver at the next level, but "I could see myself taking some direct snaps."

Ole Miss, Georgia, LSU, Alabama, Southern California and Miami, among others, have made the trip to Bastrop this spring to see Randle. Notre Dame and Tennessee are scheduled to be in Bastrop in the next few days. Randle said he's not really begun to narrow the field, but several schools are clearly emerging.

Ole Miss and Alabama are obviously very much in the mix. So is Miami, thanks in large part to the urgings of Randle's older brother, Deitrick, who grew up a huge Hurricanes fan.

"They always have great athletes and stuff," Randle said. "I like the coaching staff."

Then there's LSU, the in-state powerhouse that won the national title in January and is in hot pursuit of the state's top player.

"I feel like (LSU) is a great school," Randle said. "I think since I'm not committed to them, people think I don't like them. It's not like that. I just have to see what else is out there."

Randle said he hasn't made any firm camp plans, other than a planned trip to Miami in June.

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