Oklahoma State Football: Is Joseph Randle Worthy of School's All-Time Top 25?
Joseph Randle had a great year last season for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. It was good enough to make him the star of the team heading into 2012, but is he worthy of being among the 25 best football players to ever play at Oklahoma State?
It seems like a dumb question, as Randle has just been a starter for a year. However, his lone season as the starting running back was very impressive, especially in a pass-first offense. This is a question that requires close examination and comparisons to past great running backs at Oklahoma State.
So, let’s examine exactly whether or not Randle belongs in the Top 25 all-time at Oklahoma State. I’ll compare him to past great players at his position, go over his stats and give my final verdict.
Comparison to Great Cowboy Running Backs of the Past
Unfortunately for Randle’s case, he doesn’t do great when compared with some of the great running backs that have played at Oklahoma State.
Bob Fenimore was a running back and quarterback who played for Oklahoma A&M in the 1940s. He led the nation in total offense and finished second in Heisman voting. He also led the Cowboys to their only undefeated season. Randle hasn’t accomplished anything close to that.
Thurman Thomas is the career leader in rushing at Oklahoma State. After being one of the best running backs in the nation in college, he went on to have a Hall of Fame professional career, playing in multiple Super Bowls for the Buffalo Bills. Randle and Thomas may have similar playing styles, but the former is still nowhere near the accomplishments of the latter.
Also besting Randle is NFL and college football legend, Barry Sanders, who holds NCAA records for rushing yards in a season and rushing touchdowns in a season, both of which he set in just 11 games. He won the 1988 Heisman Trophy, played a decade with the Detroit Lions and ranks third all-time in career rushing yards in the NFL.
Even Randle’s predecessor, Kendall Hunter, accomplished far more than he has thus far. Hunter rushed for over 1,500 yards in multiple seasons and was a two-time All-American. He also showed major versatility by thriving in the current pass-heavy system and the former smash-mouth offense.
As indicated here by these comparisons, Randle is still pretty far off from being able to compare to the past great running backs in Cowboy history.
Joseph Randle’s stats have been fairly impressive in two seasons so far at Oklahoma State. During his freshman year as a backup, he rushed for 452 yards and two scores while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Those stats don’t jump off the page, but they aren’t bad when you consider that he was playing behind a two-time All-American.
In his second year, Randle rushed for 1,216 yards and 24 touchdowns while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Those stats do jump off the page a bit more, especially the touchdown total. It’s even more impressive when you consider that he shared carries with backup Jeremy Smith.
These stats are impressive, but they give an incomplete impression.
Not Yet, but Maybe Later On
Joseph Randle has not accomplished enough yet to be considered an all-time Top 25 player at Oklahoma State. With just one year as a starter, Randle still has a lot to prove.
He should get the chance this season, as he’s the biggest star returning on the team. A freshman quarterback and depleted wide receiving core should make the focus more on running the ball.
Hopefully, that will result in him distinguishing himself even more, but it is possible that he’ll get focused on too much by opponents if the passing game isn’t good enough.
The 2012 season will be the biggest of Randle’s career, as he will determine what type of legacy he'll leave behind at Oklahoma State. Will he be a good player who did his best? Or will he be a great player who put the team on his back and set himself apart as a bona fide star? We’ll find out soon enough.