Editor’s Note: We haven’t talked to Bryan Randall since the
end of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) in mid-June. Randall spent another month
after OTAs working out in Atlanta, and just last week, training camp started.
Bryan fills us in on how camp is going, and his thoughts as the Falcons prepare
to leave for a preseason game in Tokyo.
Up until training camp started last week, we were
just down here working out, running and lifting five days a week. That was
pretty much mandatory for all the rookies. We did that up until July 15th. I was
living at Lake Lanier Resort, which is probably about ten minutes from the
facility at Flowery Branch. We’ve been working out at Flowery Branch.
workouts were about being in shape and getting your body ready for training
camp. Because a lot of times when you go home, you don’t necessarily prepare
yourself the way that you need to. I think they are just trying to show us
rookies the ropes, and next year it’s not necessarily mandatory for the
veterans, so at least we’ll know what’s expected and the types of workouts
that are usually required to get ready for training camp. All the veterans that
were there participated in the morning workouts, while all the rookies worked
out in the evening.
Training camp started July 25th. For those ten
days [between July 15th and July 25th] I went back to Blacksburg for a couple of
days to visit my girlfriend and work out, since I knew I needed to work out that
week. For the rest of the week I went back home to Williamsburg and spent time
with my family.
It seemed like the guys [VT football team] were
pretty excited. They were in the middle of their summer workouts. I actually
went and ran 110s with them one day. But everybody seemed like they were pretty
happy with what’s going on, and pretty excited about everything.
They did seem focused. It was just like last year
when we were working out, and you could just feel it was different and that
everybody knew what it was going to take to get things done. Now that we’ve
been there once in the ACC, everybody realizes that it’s going to take a lot
of hard work.
From the short amount of time I was there in
Blacksburg, it was tough to tell who was stepping up as leaders. But to me it’s
always the seniors. I feel like the senior leadership is what carries the
program. In previous years, the seniors always stepped it up and took control.
We have one-a-days and we have two-a-days, and we’ve
been switching off. That’s how things have been going. The days are long, that’s
the thing. If you aren’t in meetings, you’re in practice, and if you aren’t
in practice, you’re in meetings. I’d say that’s probably the biggest
difference. In college, you’d get to go home and relax in the midday.
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Waking up early in the morning for breakfast,
then practicing, having meetings, then back out to practice, then having more
meetings. So by the time you get home from the meetings, it’s probably about
10 o’clock at night. You’ll have a little snack, and that’s about it.
We alternated back and forth between one-a-day
and two-a-days. We’d have a one-a-day, and then we’d follow that up with a
two-a-day. I’ve been going to pretty much all the special teams meetings. We
have a special teams meeting before offense and defense meetings. So I’ve been
to kickoff coverage meetings, kickoff return meetings, everything but field goal
kicking. I’m putting in the extra time. I feel like the guys in college who
have to be on special teams and go to extra meetings — I never had to deal with
that. Now I’m in meetings for like three hours straight.
Usually in a meeting we watch the whole practice,
and practices are about two and a half hours or three hours long. So we watch
film, we watch practice and what’s been going on in previous practices, then
we install what we’re going to do for the next practice. It’s always the
installation, and it’s always watching film from the previous practice. They
record the whole practice, and every drill, 7 on 7 and things like that. You’re
watching everybody’s reps, so you’re talking about the first string, second
string and third string.
It’s a good teaching tool. You get to watch
what you do. It gets long, but you get used to it.
I am getting more comfortable with the playbook.
After it’s in your head over and over every day, you get a lot of mental reps
and you tend to catch on, how you see things, how you read things. I think the
most difficult thing is just learning the base core of the offense. It’s the
same basic plays, and you take those basic plays and you run them out of
different formations. Once you get the nucleus of the offense, it’s basically
just running the same plays out of different formations and different shifts and
things like that. I’ve started to get the base, the nucleus of the offense
I get reps in one-on-ones and more individual
drills than team. Most of the time in team drills, when it’s offense and defense
running together, I don’t get any reps, until yesterday. I got two reps
yesterday, and I got four total reps so far in team drills. It was exciting just
to get the feel again, because when you’re out of it and just watching it’s
not the same. It’s just different. To get in there and actually get under
center again in the heat of battle was fun.
In seven-on-seven I took two reps, and in team
[11-on-11] I took two reps. I executed well. I completed both my balls in
seven-on-seven, and today in team drills we were on the goal line and I threw
two touchdown passes. I threw one to Fred McCrary, a fullback, and I threw one
to Michael Jenkins from Ohio State.
I feel like right now special teams is going to
be my tool to make the team. But it’s still early, and we’ve still got
preseason games to go. But I think that would definitely be a plus, to get out
there and do well on special teams. That may be my ticket, or it may not. You
don’t really know, but it’s another opportunity to get on the field.
I think I’ve been doing pretty good. It’s all
new to me. I’ve never really played special teams. Even though I come from
Beamer Ball, I wasn’t a part of those special teams. So it’s all new to me.
But I feel like I’m adjusting, and I’m learning more and more every day.
That’s something where I really have to focus on what’s going on. I’ve got
to catch up on all those years where I haven’t been on special teams.
Saturday’s Preseason Game in Tokyo
They’ve told me there’s a chance I may play
(laughs), but I know that’s broad. But they are always telling me that if I
get in, there are no excuses for me not to be ready. So I don’t know for sure.
Michael’s not going to play a lot. He doesn’t
really play in the preseason for fear of injury, so he is going to be limited.
That’s pretty much a proven fact going into the game. It’s just a matter of
how much time [Matt] Schaub gets and how much time [Ty] Detmer gets.
I’m excited about going to Tokyo. I’m not
excited about the 13 hour trip. This will be my first time going overseas. So I’m
real excited about that, and it will be a different experience. We’re going to
have some time off, so I’m probably going to go out and see the city. I don’t
know if I’ll ever go back, so while I’m over there I definitely want to get
around and see some things.
Sometimes the waiting gets a little bit
discouraging, but at the same time, I’ve been in this position before when I
came into Tech as a freshman. You’ve got to learn the ropes. I’ve been in
the position before where you’ve just got to learn and sit back and watch. I
do realize that you have to sit back and be patient.
Editor’s Note: The American Bowl, featuring Atlanta vs.
Indianapolis in Tokyo, will be shown live on ESPN2 at 5:00 a.m. Saturday, and
will be rebroadcast at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN. Click
here for more info. — Will