Woodland Hills' versatile Randall adds starting QB to his resume
Former Woodland Hills football star Rontez Miles is fighting for a roster spot with the Jets, whose depleted secondary could use a boost.
Back home in Braddock, Harry Randall gazes with intent.
“That's my brother from my mom's side. I just spoke to him last night,” Randall said. “He really inspires me. When we were younger, he taught me how to play football. We played against older people all the time. He rubbed off on me. He's my idol. I look up to him.”
In a few days, Randall will begin his senior year at Woodland Hills, the high school football factory that has produced a string of NFL players. He hopes to some day trace the footsteps of his brother, who first went to Kent State before transferring to California (Pa.), twice winning Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
“I'm expecting a lot, for real,” Randall said. “People are depending on me.”
He'll open at quarterback — his third offensive position in as many seasons — when Woodland Hills begins its schedule Friday night at home against Upper St. Clair in a Quad Central Conference game.
The Wolverines, who lost to North Allegheny, 21-14, in the 2012 WPIAL Class AAAA championship game at Heinz Field — Randall watched from the sidelines — are hoping to start a run to coach George Novak's seventh overall WPIAL title and sixth at Woodland Hills.
“This is a great tradition to be part of,” Randall said. “I think everything about it is positive.”
Randall passed an important test in a scrimmage Saturday against Erie McDowell in what amounted to his first real contact after having rehabilitated the surgically repaired knee he injured in the fourth week of the 2012 season.
“We weren't sure how he was going to react, but he reacted well,” Novak said. “He scrambled well, he avoided the rush, he took some hits and he gave hits.”
Randall is a two-way performer, readying for his third consecutive year as a defensive back. He played wide receiver as a sophomore in 2011 and was in the backfield in '12, where he rushed for an average of 77 yards per game before tearing an ACL.
It won't be his first go-round at QB, though. He served as the team's backup as a freshman in 2010.
“When he was in junior high,” Novak said, “people watched him and said he was a special athlete. He is a special athlete.”
Randall has received college offers from West Virginia, Georgia Tech and Kent State. He won the starting quarterback job over sophomore Jeremiah Jones and hopes he can live up to expectations.
“It's a dependable spot,” Randall said. “I just need to learn and progress more at that position. I think I can do it, though, because I'm athletic.”
And while Randall is known to college coaches as a defensive back who can return kicks, Novak said it's too early to remove the “versatile” label.
“They never saw him at quarterback,” Novak said. “The way he throws the ball, people will consider him a quarterback.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.