Randolph doesn't let win slip through his fingers

The USF senior atones for a crucial early drop by catching the winning 27-yard touchdown.

Published September 17, 2006

ORLANDO - Receiver Ean Randolph wanted more. Hard to imagine since the walk-on senior, who entered Saturday's game at the Citrus Bowl leading the nation in punt return yardage, caught the winning touchdown.

Randolph, a Webber International transfer who caught his first Division I touchdown two weeks ago in the opener against McNeese State, snared an underthrown Matt Grothe pass for a 27-yard score with 3:20 left.

Randolph, who could have four punt returns for touchdowns if not for penalties, wanted more because in the second quarter, he dropped a pass that could have been an easy 36-yard score and a 14-7 lead.

"(The winning catch) doesn't make up for the (dropped one)," said Randolph, who led all Bulls receivers with five catches for 126 yards. "I don't plan on dropping balls. I still dropped the (first) pass. I'm still beating myself up over it."

Fellow receiver Amarri Jackson knows Randolph can be a go-to-guy on offense.

"A guy like that - he's a great player," Jackson said. "When you got a guy like that, you want to get him the ball a lot. He's the type of player who's going to make big plays for us.

"When he dropped that ball, he was upset. He's not the guy who's going to wear himself on his sleeve. He's always real calm and collected, and ready for the next play."

Grothe, who threw three touchdowns, said Randolph is his own worst critic.

"After the (drop), he was sitting on the bench really down on himself," Grothe said. "I told him to forget about it. The (winning catch) had to be redemption for him.

"He didn't say that, but he doesn't talk that much, but when he does, everyone listens."

Afterward, coach Jim Leavitt said he had wanted to use the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder from Durant High more, and the Bulls did on several screen passes.

"He's just ... one of a kind," Grothe said. "We all know what he can do once he gets the ball."

Yet, Randolph still wanted more. He helped the Bulls win, but Randolph files that under teamwork.

"I just do what I can to help the team. I want to prove myself, and help win," he said. "We're a team out there, and defense helped us the most. One player can't win the game. I can't do it myself."