Published Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm / Updated at 10:11 pm
Despite the pain, Randle offers relief

ORLANDO, Fla. — There were several moments this year that Thad Randle can remember wondering if his season was over.

He'd be struggling to stand on the field and the trainers would rush out to help him to the sideline. Sometimes Randle put one arm over the shoulder of one NU staffer and another around a second guy. Those agonizing walks toward the bench, when a wincing Randle couldn't put any pressure on his right knee, never looked too promising.

Somehow Randle always came back. Never at full strength, but the Husker coaches decided that a hobbled and experienced junior defensive tackle was often a better option than an unprepared freshman.

So Randle kept playing.

“I just need to calm down. Sometimes the pain, it'll just shoot up. Real bad,” Randle said before taking a deep breath. “So I'll sit down for a little bit. It'll still hurt, but not as much as it did at first, so I just try to go out there.”

Randle could have taken a few weeks off during league play, but he didn't want to abandon his team. He might need surgery at the end of the year — he'll undergo an MRI exam to reevaluate the knee.

It was the same knee that ended his sophomore season. His PCL was healing, but his MCL required surgery. That was about 14 months ago.

“It's been rough,” Randle said. “It's all worth it, though.”

Worth it, because he knows he's still a valued member of the team.

Sophomore Chase Rome said Randle's positivity and leadership have inspired the entire position group. His perseverance is contagious as well, though that sometimes makes it difficult for defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski to manage. Kaczenski's often the one holding Randle out, just to be safe.

“It's being smart,” Kaczenski said.

If Randle's knee was at all sore after game day, he'd miss the first two practices of the next week. He sat out the more physical drills. And on humid mornings in Orlando, he was told to watch from the sideline at times because of the slippery grass surface.

“He's proven he's tough,” Kaczenski said. “We're not questioning his toughness.”

But lately, Randle's been feeling better. He underwent rehab treatment for the knee early in the month. He's practiced more and more since.

Want the latest Husker headlines delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for email alerts!

A good portion of Nebraska's defensive game plan for Georgia on Tuesday hinges on the 6-foot-1, 295-pound Randle, despite his unpredictable health. Without senior Baker Steinkuhler in the lineup, Rome and the undersized Cameron Meredith can't be asked to play every down.

“We're counting on Thad to play a bulk of the snaps for us inside,” defensive coordinator John Papuchis said.

At least 30 snaps, Papuchis hopes.

Randle wants to do more.

“I'm going all the way this game. It's the last game. I ain't got no choice,” Randle said. “As much as I can give. Until it gives out on me.”

Contact the writer:


Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.



< >
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.'s Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
< >