Randolph: 'I'm a Wolfpacker'

Raynard Randolph

Raynard Randolph thought all along he would be playing at NC State in 2009. When he received the news from the NCAA Clearinghouse that he hadn't qualified academically, Randolph began to consider other options.

Raynard Randolph thought all along he would be playing at NC State in 2009. When he received the news from the NCAA Clearinghouse that he hadn't qualified academically, Randolph began to consider other options.

"I was really disappointed," said Randolph. "The thing is I know that I tried my best. Sometimes your best might not be good enough. I obviously wanted to be playing ball at [NC] State, but I couldn't and that's when I decided on Hargrave.

"Hargrave has a good reputation for getting kids ready for college so the plan for me was to go there and then NC State. Plus they win a lot of games, and I love winning."

"Hargrave has been great because I'm learning how to study better and improve on my tests," he added. "As long as I take care of my work I should be qualified by December. I'm glad to have a second chance."

Arguably the top prep football program in the country, Hargrave churns out Division I signees annually. Not only can recruits improve in the classroom, but they also develop into better football players.

"Hargrave has been good," said Randolph. "I've been learning a bunch of things. I'm trying to work off the rust because it's been a while since I've played ball.

"I'm learning here that you can't just maul guys every play because of your size and strength. We have ballers here at Hargrave, and it's going to get me ready for the college level."

It also helps that Hargrave head coach Robert Prunty specializes in developing defensive linemen. He has had several elite linemen come through his program including a host of NFL standouts.

Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who played his college ball at Auburn, was a starter for the NFC in the 2009 Pro Bowl. New Orleans Saints star Charles Grant (Georgia) is one of the top defensive ends in the league. Defensive tackle Peria Jerry was a 2009 first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons after great college career at Ole Miss.

Randolph might not be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys right now, but if he continues to improve he could be in the future.

"You're not going to go up the middle with Raynard Randolph in there," said coach Prunty. "It doesn't get any better than him in there. He's a three-technique, but we want to switch him over to that one.

"I call him 'Graveyard.' He has such great leverage. He'll get up under you and dig you out of your grave. He's got the best bullrush I've seen. He's strong up top and knows how to use all of it. His bullrush... he will overpower you."

"I love playing for coach Prunty," said Randolph. "Hargrave has had a great tradition with defensive linemen, and he's a big reason. He works with us all the time, and he's already taught me a lot."

Because he remains committed to NC State, Randolph says he won't take any other visits this fall. He hopes to attend several Wolfpack games, and he stays in constant contact with defensive line coach Keith Willis. Coach Willis also recruited Randolph to NC State.

"He's one of the best coaches I've been around," Randolph said of coach Willis. "He was a big reason I came to Hargrave, and when I didn't get in to State he was very supportive. He stuck with me and told me that I'll always have a scholarship, and he's going to hold my spot.

"That's a big reason I'm still committed, and he said that he always wants me to stay in contact with him. I appreciate all of that because the coaches could have backed off of me but they didn't. I'm a Wolfpacker all day."

Randolph believes that when he matriculates to NC State he will be in the mix for playing time right away.

"Every athlete going to college wants to do their best and earn a starting position," he said. "Coach Willis kept it real the whole time. He said if I go in there and work hard then I'll play. My goal is to go in there in the spring and earn a starting position.

"While I'm here at Hargrave I want to get my grades right and keep getting better. I'm trying to get strong and work on my technique and fundamentals so I'll be ready."

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