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Arizona football: Jerrard Randall waiting for his opportunity to prove himself

LSU transfer Jerrard Randall got some run at quarterback in the Pac-12 Championship Game for Arizona, where he got to show off some of his skills

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

"When I looked at the scoreboard, I was like 'Okay, celebrating...it's too late for that now."

That's kind of the way that Arizona Wildcats third-string quarterback Jerrard Randall's entire season has gone, not just when he ran the ball into the endzone on the last play of the Pac-12 Championship Game for his first-career collegiate score.

When Anu Solomon was unable to play in the second half of that game because of an ankle injury, Rich Rodriguez first turned to Jesse Scroggins before giving Randall the keys to the offense.

"He competed," Rodriguez said of Randall's play that night in Santa Clara. "He plays hard, and to Jerrard, it's really important to him. He's still learning. Sometimes he gets frustrated, but he's a first-year player really in the system and I think (the bowl) practices will probably benefit him as much as anybody on the team."

"I wanted to put my team in the best position to score some points," Randall said of his opportunity against Oregon. "So for me to do that, I had to run and gain as much yardage as I can."

The sophomore transfer from LSU certainly did a lot of running when he got in. 11 carries for 74 yards. Almost three times as many yards as Nick Wilson had that night.

"Just getting big chunks of yardages, just trying to put us in a position to score some points," Randall said of his performance. It should also be noted that he was 0-for-5 through the air.

Like Rodriguez said though, just getting into the game meant a ton to Randall, a guy who has had to sit behind two quarterbacks this past year, and never found his footing in the system at LSU either.

"It means a lot to me," he said of being able to get in against Oregon. "I haven't done it yet you know. It's my first time being in a Pac-12 Championship Game. This ain't my first time being in a championship game, but it's my first time playing in it. So it was a good experience. Kind of humbled me. Made me a better person because I felt like I wanted to play more. And to play more, you gotta stay humble, and show the coaches that you're trustworthy."

"It's a learning experience," the quarterback said of his past year in Tucson. "That's all I can say about it basically because I want to play. Who doesn't want to play? Every kid want to play you know. But it's when your time comes and when the coaches think you're ready, and when the opportunity comes, you just gotta take advantage of it, and that's just how I go at it. I just go out to practice every day and I work hard, and I play the role that I'm supposed to play, and hopefully when my opportunity come around again, I can show some more of what I can do."

Like Anu Solomon has developed over the third semester, and B.J. Denker before him, Jerrard Randall has the same opportunity to take some huge leaps in his development and possibly be a viable option at quarterback next season.

"The biggest thing I've improved on is mentality-wise," said Randall. "I'm a little ahead of the game now. I'm a little smarter on offense. I go to my different options at different times. I don't just stick to one guy and focus on that one guy. If he's not open, I'm not taking off to run, unless it's fourth quarter against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game, then I gotta run to win the game (he said while laughing)."

"Playing quarterback, it's a mental game, and you gotta be mentally ready, and you gotta be mentally prepared. I don't know if you can develop in a year. I've been here twelve months. I don't know if you can develop the offense and have it down pat to where you're in the game and you know it like the back of your hand. It's just a mental game. I don't really know how to explain it. But if you watch those guys like Tom Brady and Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, you kind of understand what I'm saying with the mental part."

Randall rattled off those NFL guys, but there's another Super Bowl winning quarterback that he looks at and wants to be like.

"It has to be Big Ben man," he joked. "I respect him, and I love the Pittsburgh Steelers. I kind of look up to Geno Smith. We're from the same hometown. I look up to Teddy Bridgewater because we went to the same middle school and elementary school. So I look up to a lot of those guys because they're from my hometown. I seen those guys open windows and opportunities for guys like me."

"I just hope my opportunity comes around."

Randall showed that he definitely has the superior speed to Anu Solomon, but will his knowledge of the offense and his throwing accuracy improve enough over the next eight months to put himself in the position to potentially be Arizona's starter next year? Only time will tell, but he seems ready for the challenge ahead.