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Similarities between two small towns in Virginia — Williamsburg and Blacksburg — proved to be the catalyst that drove 2001 Bruton alumnus Bryan Randall to play football at Virginia Tech.
On Saturday, the school announced Randall and four other former student-athletes will be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
“It’s a big honor. It’s crazy because time moves so fast. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been out of school 10 years,” he said in an interview with WYDaily. “It’s a huge honor and people have been showing me a lot of love over the past couple of days.”
A record-setting quarterback at Virginia Tech, Randall helped guide the Hokies to their first ACC Championship in 2004 while being named ACC Player of the Year after throwing for 2,264 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions that season.
Randall, who currently plays football for the Philadelphia Soul in the Arena Football League, finished his time at Virginia Tech as the school’s all-time leader in total offense, touchdown passes and passing yards.
Before Randall began breaking records in Blacksburg, he was a small-town dual-threat quarterback for the Bruton Panthers who also played basketball in the offseason.
A three-year starter at quarterback and defensive back for the Panthers, Randall helped guide Bruton to the playoffs twice during his four years.
While Randall was playing at Bruton, Virginia Tech football stepped into the spotlight thanks to the flashy quarterbacking of Michael Vick. Watching Vick play made Randall want to emulate that style of quarterback: flashy and mobile with the ability to sling the ball at will.
Randall admitted to not knowing much about Virginia Tech before the school’s lone appearance in the national championship game during his junior year at Bruton.
During his senior year, with his college recruitment picking up steam, Randall visited Virginia Tech for the first time. Once there, Randall knew he was meant to be in Blacksburg.
“It was just one of those places that seemed special,” he said. “It was close to home. My family was able to see me play. Having the opportunity for one year to play behind Mike [Vick], it just seemed like a good fit and a good vibe the moment I stepped on the campus.”
One of the things that drew Randall to Blacksburg was the town’s charm, something that reminded him of his hometown.
A small town with little fanfare, Randall said he was comfortable with the pace of life in Blacksburg because he was already familiar with it back home.
“Blacksburg was probably a bit slower at that time than Williamsburg was,” he said with a chuckle. “It wasn’t anything that I had to get used to or adjust to. It was just pretty similar in a lot of ways. I felt at home from the beginning.”
As a freshman at Virginia Tech, Randall was one of four true freshman to see the field. His early experience helped him earn the starting quarterback position as a sophomore, a position he did not relinquish for the remainder of his time at Virginia Tech.
Randall’s professional football career has seen him play for 11 different teams across all levels of play. At his peak, Randall was playing on the practice squads for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers.
After his time in the NFL came to a close, Randall played briefly in the Canadian Football League before returning stateside to play indoor football.
Currently, Randall is in the middle of the Arena Football League season where he is filling the backup quarterback role for the Soul.
Still focusing on the football season at hand, Randall said he has not had time to slow down and process his accomplishments over the years.
“You don’t really sit back and think about it because you’re in season after season,” he said. “Down the line when I’m done playing, I’ll be able to sit back more and dwell and think about my playing days and how I represented the school. It kind of makes me speechless in a way. Just to think I’m already being inducted in the Hall of Fame and I’m still playing now.”