Growing up as childhood friends in the Wichita area, Joseph Randle and Blake Bell were always competing in local sports.
Now, with both collegiate rushing stars, the competition has moved one state to the South, as part of a legendary rivalry.
Last season, Randle led Oklahoma State with 1,216 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns, while Bell, running out of Oklahoma's patented Belldozer formation, produced a team-leading 13 touchdowns.
In 2012, despite differing styles, the dynamic backs expect a heavier workload. And, as preparation for that season begins, Randle sat down and reflected on the relationship he has developed with Bell:
When did you first meet Blake?
“Actually, in the sixth grade, they gave us our first loss ever. I played for the Wichita Bulldogs and he played tight end and defensive end for the Tigers in Wichita. So (we've known) each other since way back. And even before that we played basketball against each other when he played for the Suns and I played for the Shockers. So we've been going against each other our whole lives.”
Because of your athletic gifts, did you guys just gain a mutual respect for each other?
“Oh yeah. There was one point where we were the same height. Then I didn't see him for a long time because he went to a Catholic school for seventh and eighth grade. Then my sophomore year, I kept hearing people talking about ‘Blake Bell, Blake Bell.' He wasn't even playing quarterback then, he was playing defensive end. In basketball, he dropped 31 on our team and we won state that year. I said, ‘He dropped 31 on ya'll?' And they said, ‘Yeah, he's 6-6.' I said, ‘6-6? We (were) just the same height.' Man, he just shot up in height in high school I guess.”
Have you followed his career at Oklahoma closely?
“Yeah, I wanted him to come here, but we didn't offer him. He would have came here and told me, ‘I would have loved to go here but they didn't offer me.' And OU did, so that's just how it went.”
Did his breakout season last year surprise you at all?
“Oh no, he's an absolute athlete. He's a 6-6 athlete that you can't do much about.”
You got him last year in the Bedlam game, two rushing touchdowns to one. Did you give him any grief for that?
“He actually text me right before the game and said, ‘Man, I hope I get about three or four.' Then he asked me if I was going to match that. I was just like, ‘I don't know, we going to see.' So we got a little competition going.”
By Anthony Slater, For The Oklahoman