Wide receiver Deon Randall ‘15 burst onto the scene on Saturday in a win against Cornell, hauling in a Yale record-tying three touchdown receptions. The San Diego native led the football team in 2011 in receptions with 48 catches en route to All-Ivy honors. But a shoulder injury forced him to miss the entire 2012 football season. After taking a semester off last year to help rehab, Randall has quickly emerged this season as one of Yale’s top offensive threats.
Deon’s breakout game on Saturday, which also included a rushing touchdown, earned him Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors. The News talked with Deon about his record-tying performance, his comeback from injury and the team’s goals for the season.
Q: Congratulations on your win last Saturday over Cornell. What are your thoughts on the game?
A: I thought it was a fun game to play in. It’s always fun the first game out—being able to play in front of the student body and all of our Yale football fans. I’m just glad we got to pull off our first Ivy League win. It’s always a plus.
Q: How do you feel about tying the Yale record with your three receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown?
A: It’s awesome. Anytime you can break a record or even tie a record, I think it’s a huge accomplishment. But, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the receivers blocking for me and everyone else who contributed to that.
Q: What has been the toughest challenge you have faced in your football career?
A: I would say it was my injury from last year. It was real tough to sit out last year especially when we went 2-8, and I couldn’t contribute to the team. I think that was really tough for me because I feel like playing football has given me a sense of identity. It’s given me a broader purpose. I like being on a team where we work towards a common goal, and being part of a brotherhood. So, not playing last year…was definitely an obstacle.
Q: How has coming back from your injury been for you so far? Has your football mentality or style of play changed at all because of the injury?
A: It’s definitely made me hungrier to play football. You kind of redevelop a hunger for the game. The time you sit out, you miss it — you understand why you have a passion for the game and that’s what happened. I appreciate being on the field more. You realize that you only have a finite time to play football. Once you realize that, you really try to take advantage of all of the opportunities that you have to play. It’s allowed me to come back stronger and as a better player.
Q: What are your personal goals for the season?
A: Well, first of all, I want to win. I think everyone wants to win, and we definitely want to beat Harvard. As far as personal goals, I want to continue to break records, and potentially be an All-American. That doesn’t just happen at the end of the season — it happens by working hard each game.
Q: Over the last year, the football team has changed significantly with the introduction of a new quarterback, a new head coach, and a new offense. What are your thoughts on these changes and how have you been adapting to them?
A: I like them. I like the new coach: Coach Reno does a tremendous job getting his players prepared and ready for games. Hank Furman ’14 came in as a quarterback, and I think he’s done a tremendous job working hard to assume his position as quarterback and facilitate our offense. And I like the new offense because it accommodates a lot of our players—it gets a lot of our players out in open space with the opportunity to make a lot of plays one on one against the defense. I think it’s a great offensive system that we’re able to make plays in.
Q: What do you find most exciting about this year’s football team?
A: We have a lot of playmakers. We have a lot of guys who are dangerous on the perimeter and on the inside. But I also think we have a lot of leadership, which is awesome to see within a football team because, [although] you have leadership from the coaches, having leadership within your football team also helps allow for a certain order of discipline.
Q: Looking forward to the rest of the season, what are your hopes and goals for the team?
A: I hope we continue to do well in the Ivy League. I think we have enough athletes to give ourselves the opportunity to win — we just have to compete hard. We can be as good as we want to be. But it also depends on how we prepare and how we play each game. The thing is, there’s so much parity in the Ivy League that any game could be taken or taken away. So, we have to work hard and take everything play by play. I think the outcome of the season will be big–the little things will take care of the big things.