And watching big brother gave Joseph his first taste of big-time college football.
“Those are the games that I can remember going to that were my first full, packed stadiums,” Joseph said.
But John could not stay out of trouble off the field.
He had six brushes with the law during his time in Lawrence, including a battery charge for allegedly hitting a man outside a local restaurant and a citation for disorderly conduct and battery for allegedly slapping a woman who tried to break up a fight between him and a teammate. He was dismissed from the Jayhawks in the offseason between the 2004 and 2005 seasons but remained in school at KU, then transferred to Southern Illinois before the 2006 season to finish his final two years of football eligibility.
Joseph politely declines to talk about how his brother's past may have impacted his own decision-making while in college. But John wants Joseph to learn from those mistakes and be careful about where he spends his free time and the people with whom he surrounds himself.
“It was embarrassing what me and my family had to go through,” John said. “Just by me getting into things that I got in. And I use that stuff on (Joseph). You know, ‘Don't do what I went through.'”
John finished his SIU career in 2007 with a 1,000-yard rushing season. That same year, Joseph was beginning to become a star of his own at Southeast, gaining more than 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground as a sophomore. He'd eventually become a four-star “athlete” recruit, and signed with OSU — with his family's advice and blessing, of course — after taking his only official visit to Stillwater.
Since arriving on campus, Joseph has blossomed into a dynamic, versatile weapon for the Cowboys. As the No. 1 running back last season, he amassed 1,216 rushing yards, 266 receiving yards and 26 total touchdowns. Less than halfway through his junior season, Randle already ranks 14th all-time in school history in rushing (2,202 yards) and sixth in rushing touchdowns (32).
Meanwhile, John, now 27, is leading a successful adult life. He's currently in his first year working with special education students at Wichita South High School. He's coaching a fifth-grade football team with Larry and their father, Larry Sr., and hopes to begin coaching high school football next season. He has three children of his own.
And when John watches his younger brother play, he sees Joseph once again following in — and even surpassing — his footsteps.
“I just see myself all over again,” John said. “That's why it's so exciting.”
Joseph and John talk on the phone a couple times every week, and John and the rest of the Randle family make the drive down to Stillwater for each OSU home game. John enjoys being able to give Joseph a pep talk on the field before the game, and then talk about his performance afterward.
And, of course, the whole family will be in Lawrence on Saturday when the Cowboys face the Jayhawks.
John is excited to run into familiar faces and will be proudly sporting a No. 1 “Randle” jersey — an orange OSU jersey, that is. Joseph admits this game does hold some special meaning to him, since it's in the stadium where John once played.
That's the bond of two brothers.
“I'm with him, regardless,” Joseph said. “There is no in between. That's family.”