Sometimes a blur can change your life, just ask Lamar product Rodney Randle. Every year the FCS has a guy pop a 40-yard dash time that makes scouts' heads spin collectively. This spring, Randle was that guy, posting a 4.28-second time in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, faster than anybody at the NFL Combine.
Last year, Prairie View A&M's KhaDarel Hodge was "that guy", timing in the mid 4.2-second range and using that to open doors. The rookie free agent eventually played in the Super Bowl for the Rams. Randle is well aware of Hodge, as they both played FCS college ball in the same state, Texas.
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"I do remember that (about Hodge)," Randle told HERO Sports this week, just days before he'll learn where he'll be heading next week. "The Rams scout who I've met, he was scouting me during the season and told me about Hodge, that's who he wanted last year. He liked him the whole time."
The Lamar cornerback said he's heard the most from the Chargers, Browns, Texas and Patriots, and the Chargers worked him out a week after his Pro Day. The 5-foot-10, 191-pound cornerback/return specialist had 170 tackles in his career with five interceptions, 21 passes defended and returned 84 kickoffs in his career for 1,802 yards (21.5 avg) and a TD. Special teams — both as a kick returner and a gunner on coverage — will help him get onto a roster and give him time to grow as a defensive back.
While that special number of 4.28 helped his case most, his vertical jump of 41 inches and his broad jump of 131 inches didn't hurt either, as both would have been top five for CBs at the Combine, as would his shuttle time of 4.08 seconds. His marks clearly put him into an elite class, but how that translates this weekend is unknown. Some services consider him a priority free agent, which basically equates him to the 8th to 12th round pick slot of 25 years ago — except he'll be the one making the call of where he heads, should he not get drafted.
"I feel like special teams is what's going to help me out," the Beaumont native and soon to be Lamar grad said. "I'm most definitely the underdog and I have always been. So I have that chip on my shoulder. I've been training for this my whole life, and I took my training in Denver (with Landow Performance) really serious with my eating and sleeping habits. My girlfriend kept reminding me that I could run in the 4.2s."
As usual for FCS products, their games against FBS competition are often conversation topics with scouts. In Randle's case, his chance to play against Baylor — a team that once recruited him — was quite an opportunity, and the Cardinals were beating the Bears in the first half of that game. Lamar games against Texas Tech, Houston and North Texas were also chances for individuals to prove themselves on film, even when sometimes the scores were lopsided thanks to depth differences.
He also got to go against fellow draft prospect Jazz Ferguson of Northwestern State, who once caught passes at LSU before transferring. The Southland Conference has challenged Randle, but he came through as an all-conference performer.
So that 4.28 time opened some doors, since it was faster than anything run at the Combine … and this weekend we'll see what the final destination is.
"Your life can change a lot in one year, (Hodge) proved that," Randle said. "I definitely feel like my time has come."[divider]
Here are the links to the FCS Combine performance charts, position by position (how the NFL Combine breaks it down):
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