Bradley Randle Has Little Man Syndrome

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Bradley Randle has survived three different offensive schemes in college to end up with the Vikings, making it his fifth consecutive season in a new offense, counting high school. I was able to catch up with him after morning walkthroughs and hear his thoughts.

Off to the side, Bradley Randle watches the third team's kickoff unit go through their reps. 45 minutes into the hour-long walkthrough session, and he still hasn't seen the field.

It takes two sets of reps from the ones, twos and threes before Randle lines up behind McLeod Bethel-Thompson to run two reps of a walkthrough play before he returns to the sideline to get advice from James Saxon, running backs coach.

Evidently, there was a lot to parse in those two reps, because Saxon kept talking to him through the end of the morning session.

Stacked with running backs like Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Jerodis Williams and Matt Asiata, Randle will have to cut through a lot of chaff if he wants to make the team

It'll be tough without those special teams reps, though. Every undrafted free agent, as well as a number of late-rounders, knows that the best way for them to make an impact and get on the roster is to perform well in Mike Priefer's unit.

WHEN '38' GETS CALLED, I'M READY. -Bradley Randle

"I'm just waiting for the opportunity," he said of his lack of special teams snaps. "I'm an opportunity guy, so whatever chance I get when I do get out there, kick off, kickoff return, punt, punt return, whatever it is. Just know that 'OK, Keep your eye on that guy.' [They] know something will happen."

Naturally, this has been a common refrain for the younger guys hoping to make the roster: limited reps and practices means that they have to make the most of your opportunities.

For a player bustling with energy, it should have been even more frustrating. But if it did, he didn't express any of it.

His time at UNLV may have prepared him. Ever the backup, Randle started perhaps two games in his career there, having played behind Tim Cornett.

But NFL scouts followed his career. After the draft, it wasn't long before Randle got offers from the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals and two other teams. Notably, every one of those teams is expected to maintain or implement a zone blocking scheme.

So, why did he choose the Vikings?

Evidently, the answer couldn't be more obvious.

It limits his opportunities, but expands his knowledge of the game. More than anything else, that seems to be a mission of Randle's.

"I like to pick people's brains—I'm even picking yours by the way—whoever I'm around, I feel like I'm learning from somebody. You can't know enough game."

He's emphatic about that point, which is probably why you'll be interested to know that Randle reads the Daily Norseman and probably a number of other tertiary websites. The biggest takeaway in our conversation was how much Randle likes learning about the game.

In order to survive his time at UNLV, that might have been a requirement.

Bradley Randle was quick to point out that in his three years as a Rebel, they ran three independent offensive concepts, and they will be implementing a new one once more.

"I'm pretty sure I would have been through all the offenses, but this right here... I feel like I fit, I'm a piece."

As the second option to Tim Cornett, Randle racked up 635 rushing yards his final year, including a 12-carry, 113 yard game against New Mexico, where he notched two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown.

The former Rebel has struggled to see the field, but has a résumé that warrants consideration, at least on special teams.

Bradley Randle big hit, ESPN Top 10 Plays (via Kumasi Simmons)

That highlight hit isn't the only big hit of his career. When Saxon gave Randle the call, there were a few things he described to Randle that caught his eye, and one of them was his relentless attitude and determination to win.

He told me that this was one of his biggest selling points. "I knew any and every opportunity I had to make something happen with the ball, without the ball. You can look at the highlight tape, but I like to ... I'm not a dirty guy or anything, but I got Little Man Syndrome, so I like to knock out the big dudes."

At 5'7," Randle is the shortest player on the team by three inches.

His listed weight at his Pro Day was 189 pounds, but looking at him that seems a bit light. He told me he was at 196, looking to drop a pound or two to hit the Vikings' weight target for him. Earlier in the year, I called Robbie Rouse a running back who was short, but not small. The same can be said for Randle, who beat Rouse out of a roster spot with the Vikings during rookie minicamps.

His size is unsurprisingly not too notable, and Randle plays like a workhorse back who happens to have agility and speed. He's still learning the rhythm of the Vikings offense, but is picking up quickly on some nuances.

Running backs coach James Saxon is a big part of that, and the young running back has no end of compliments for him. "He's a great coach, he's probably the best coach I've had so far," he says. "He has a lot of knowledge and I'm just happy to have a great coach like him. I really enjoy him in the meetings on and off the field."

I GOT LITTLE MAN SYNDROME, SO I LIKE TO KNOCK OUT THE BIG DUDES. -Bradley Randle

Like Rouse, Randle figures to be a player who will take advantage of the "space player" concept that Greg Cosell and many others have identified in players like Darren Sproles, Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb. Like those players, Randle can line up in the slot (although has yet to do so at camp) or run a number of routes out of the backfield.

It's a concept he's familiar with, and he knows this added value might be critical for his hopes of making a roster spot.

You can ask him yourself. He's active on twitter and other social media (@VIKINGS_Rebel), and responds to fan comments quickly and often. He told me it was just a natural extension of who he was.

"I'm a people person—growing up with my dad (former Major League Baseball player Lenny Randle, who played for ten years as a second and third baseman), he's always around people signing autographs, he's always open to talk to anybody. He'll talk to you for about two days if you let him do so. That kind of dropped down to me. I just learned a lot from him."

From the moment I saw him, it was difficult for him to stop talking. My interview with him was three times longer than it was for anybody else, and he had a lot to say. Much of this stems from his easy personality and how much he likes people, which likely endeared himself to his teammates back in Las Vegas.

In fact, the acclaim he received from his teammates was one of the few reasons that Saxon ended up making the call to Randle, as Vikings scouts couldn't explain enough how much of a team player Randle was. His workman-like attitude sets an example for his team, but his charisma lets others buy into the team concept that he sells.

It will be tough for the shorter running back to make the roster. Not only is he competing with running backs Joe Banyard and Jerodis Williams, but there's a possibility that fullbacks Matt Asiata or Zach Line could grab the third half-back spot on the roster, much like Asiata did last year.

Whatever happens, Randle is sure to take this experience with him and translate it into something useful.

"By the time I'm 30, I'm pretty sure I'll still be learning."

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