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Arizona football: Jerrard Randall to capitalize on NFL opportunities ahead

Looking back at his career, Jerrard Randall says he failed to take advantage of his opportunities at Arizona, and will do whatever it takes to take his game to the next level

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats ran 56 plays on Saturday in their 45-37 win over the New Mexico Lobos in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. And in not one of those 56 plays did we see Jerrard Randall, at quarterback, or wide receiver. In the weeks, and even minutes leading up to the bowl game, Rich Rodriguez had said that Randall would be getting looks at wide receiver, and getting them early.

And as Randall ends his career at Arizona, he knows that the NFL quarterback door is closed, and that some other role on offense, maybe even corner, might be better for him.

"We kind of did," Randall said when asked if he had talked about his NFL future with quarterback coach Rod Smith. "Kind of like a little slot receiver deal, wide out deal, maybe a little corner, a little running back. Whatever. Whatever they have on the table for me or whatever they think is best for me is what I want to do. I mean I like playing wideout because you gotta be physical. It's a tough game and I kind of like that aspect of the game."

Very confident in his abilities, Randall knows that he has the tools to compete at the next level, and make a splash if he's given the opportunity.

"A couple of agents here and there say a little slot, a little kick off return," he said about the feedback he's gotten so far. "My coach kind of gives me a little feedback, and from an agent stand point that's what they tell me. When I go train for a team I'm going to train at whatever positions they want me to. Quarterback, running back, receiver, whatever. I think I can be very explosive all the time where I can go out and show them."

Wide receiver seems to be the most likely spot for Randall in the NFL, but he failed to record a catch this season, likely because he didn't get many reps, even when Rodriguez alluded to it many times. But still, despite not getting the necessary reps, Randall will use his athleticism to reach the next level.

"Speed. Speed, explosiveness," Randall said about his best NFL traits. "Just being an active player. Running around, I think I'm fast enough to play with those guys at the next level. I think I can adapt to their speed. I think it'll be pretty challenging, but I can adapt. You know, you don't have four or five years in the NFL to adapt, it's a business so you never know when your time is up."

"My route running is okay, it can be a lot better. But I can stretch the field," he said about his receiver skills.

Randall has had a long road to get to where he is today. He started his college career at LSU, left for Northwest Mississippi College, and then came out to Arizona. He was always a quarterback, and that's just because of his athleticism, mixed with his ability to throw the ball. But deep down inside, he wishes he was at receiver from the beginning.

"Kind of," Randall said about wanting to go back and begin as a wide receiver. "Me tearing my shoulder and getting rotator cuff surgery, twice, at LSU they kinda tried to redshirt me so that I can be ready to go. It didn't work out like that. I kind of lost touch of throwing the ball when I tore my shoulder. It was never the same. Never the same."

"Five years ago, yes, I wish I was playing receiver. But at LSU, I had guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry so, me playing is very, very unlikely. I'm not mad at the position I'm in. I'm pretty satisfied. As long as I get to the next level, and I get my shot, I'm going to take full advantage of it."

But through his two years at Arizona, he feels that he has done all that he can, and it's time to take the next step in his life, whether it might be the NFL, or life after football, at the ripe age of 23.

"I feel like my time is up, you know? I did my five years and I feel like I've been in college a little too long. I feel like my time is up. It feels like... I can't really explain it. It just feels like my time is up in college football. I'm well overdue. I'm not saying it's getting boring, it's very exciting. I just think my time is up."

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ON HIS PERFORMANCE AT QUARTERBACK THIS SEASON

Much like the team itself, Jerrard Randall had his roller coaster moments in 2015. He started against Stanford and lost miserably. He came in vs. Washington State, falling just short of a monstrous comeback. He threw the game winning touchdown vs. Utah in double overtime. Then he got yanked in the second quarter vs. Arizona State and then didn't play in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.

But looking back on his time, Randall is very critical on himself, and feels as if he didn't take advantage, and just wasn't prepared to be the starting quarterback for Arizona. Disappointed, yet very grateful for his opportunity.

"I got my chance to get on the field and even play play, to make the plays I even got to make," he said about his experience at Arizona. "Maybe if I was at another school, I probably don't even get in. You never know. To even be in the rotation, I was just glad to be in the rotation and make the plays I did when the opportunity came around. I should have taken full advantage of starting, but fatigue, man. I was just so scared of fatigue. Should I run fast on this play and then be done? I mean I'm kinda tired, can I make the next play? Fatigue was the biggest factor in me playing and I didn't prepare for it and I should have."

Randall was fatigued, and would often start panicking, which didn't make for a good combination.

"I don't want to get tired, because I want to be able to last for the whole game," he continued. "I mean it's a lot of things that run through my mind, as fatigue runs through my mind as well. I just didn't prepare myself to be a starter. That's basically it. But sometimes I start panicking. Sometimes when I'm a little hurt, nicked up, I panic in the pocket. No one is probably around me, but I'm like 'nah I gotta get it out' so it's just getting used to it and protecting yourself."

Getting hit is not ideal for anyone, and Randall was also worried about taking the hit. "At quarterback, I don't like getting hit with free licks. That's what I call it, free licks. Just sitting in the pocket, no rib cage on, and it hurts."

The conversation switched over to Brandon Dawkins for a bit, and Randall continued to lay the criticism on himself as he talked about the Arizona State game.

"The timing is built in your head, basically. 1, 2, 3, drop back, step up, step up, you gotta take off and run. And that's something I wasn't doing," he said about the regular season finale. "That's something I couldn't do, and Brandon came in and did that. And I mean hey, he's going to be a great quarterback overall over time, pretty good deal."

Best of luck to Randall as he looks to continue his football career in the next level. His sheer athleticism and speed should at least give him a chance to make an NFL team come mini-camp time.