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Why Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle is drawing comparisons to Thurman Thomas

JOSEPH RANDLE – Saturday's game in College Station will give the nation a chance to learn what Brandon Weeden already knows: ‘He's a talented dude'
By GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, gmizell@opubco.com Published: September 23, 2011
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Joseph Randle took a handoff from Brandon Weeden on Oklahoma State's first drive against Arizona, cut to the outside and sprinted up the sideline for 41 yards.

Later in the game, Randle slipped behind the Wildcat linebacker, caught a short pass from Weeden in the middle of the field and turned it into a 63-yard gain.

Randle was responsible for the Cowboys' longest running and receiving play that night. He also scored twice on a pair of short runs — one where he flipped over the linemen and into the end zone from a yard out.

That's just what Joe Randle can do.

“He's a talented dude,” Weeden said.

The running game will be a large focal point of Saturday afternoon's top-10 showdown between OSU and Texas A&M at Kyle Field. Much of the attention will surround the Aggies' stout backfield combination of Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael and whether the Cowboys' front seven can stop them.

But Randle may be the most dangerous all-around weapon on the field Saturday.

“I'm not really trying to judge myself like that,” Randle said. “I just try to use my abilities within the offense.”

Those abilities are plentiful.

Through three weeks, Randle, a sophomore, is one of three running backs in the nation with at least 300 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving, joining Oregon's LaMichael James, a 2010 Heisman finalist, and Florida's Chris Rainey.

Randle has shown this season that he can run between the tackles as the Cowboys' featured back. He can catch the ball out of the backfield with ease. Or, he can split to the outside and run routes alongside OSU's elite group of receivers.

No matter the down or situation, Randle is always a threat to get the ball.

“If you get the ball in his hands, he's going to make good decisions,” OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “He's going to make plays.”

Weeden sees a little bit of LaDainian Tomlinson and Reggie Bush in his backfield-mate. And OSU coach Mike Gundy and has loosely compared Randle to Thurman Thomas and Marshall Faulk.

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DUAL-THREAT BACKS

When it comes to carrying and catching the football, OSU's Joseph Randle ranks among the nation's most versatile backs. A look at how he compares:

Player, school; Rushing; Receiving; Total; TDs

Chris Rainey, Florida; 306; 214; 520; 4

Joseph Randle, OSU; 378; 117; 495; 7

LaMichael James, Oregon; 325; 144; 469; 6

RANDLE VS. THURMAN

Joseph Randle's versatility is drawing comparisons to former OSU star Thurman Thomas, who starred for four seasons with the Cowboys. Randle, a sophomore, is in his first season as a starter. A look at how they compare:

Category; Randle; Thomas

Avg. yards from scrimmage; 7.1; 4.2

Yards per rush; 5.8; 5.1

Yards per catch; 11.1; 7.3

Career receptions; 49; 75

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