Virginia Tech has a veteran quarterback running the offense as well, and though he may have a different build and style of play, Bryan Randall shares many similarities with Campbell.
“We’ve both had our ups and downs over the last couple of years,” Randall says. "It seems like this year has kind of been a break-out season for both of us. I guess we’ve taken similar paths in past years in not gaining a lot of respect from people and this year we’re finally winning some people over.”
Campbell and Randall did a little more than win people over in their senior seasons and both became instrumental in championship seasons for their teams.
Campbell was selected as the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. Randall was selected the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year. More importantly, both quarterbacks have led their teams to conference championships and displayed leadership by example on and off the field.
“We couldn’t be any more proud of what Bryan Randall has accomplished on this football field,” says Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. “He’s been a great leader. He’s been a terrific football player.
“It’s not always what Bryan does with his cleats on,” Stinespring adds. “It’s what Bryan does with our football team when nobody else is watching. To say that you’re a great leader when everybody is watching, that’s easy. Show me a guy that when nobody’s watching and the camera’s not on, then he’s a leader.”
Although Randall is a three-year starter he shared time last season under center with Marcus Vick, the younger brother of Michael Vick. Vick was suspended before the season which made way for Randall to take over full time at quarterback.
“I try to lead by example,” he says. “I think the guys are going to follow somebody they can trust in and who they believe is going to be accountable. I just want to put it upon myself to be accountable for the team and responsible for my actions. I believe in the four years I’ve been here with the hard work and dedication, I’ve put in the time to get the results and I’m reaping the benefits right now.”
On opening day for college football in 2004, Randall nearly led the Hokies to a victory over the top-ranked USC Trojans before falling 24-13. In their fourth game of the season the Hokies took another tumble with a 17-16 home loss to North Carolina State.
Now, at 10-2 heading into the Sugar Bowl Virginia Tech hasn’t lost since and concluded the season with impressive wins against two ranked rivals, Virginia and Miami.
“We’ve been underdogs all year,” says the 6-0, 222-pound senior. “It’s not anything we’re not used to and we’re willing to take that underdog role if we have to. We’re rolling right now, eight games straight. We’ve got a lot of confidence. We’re just excited to be back out there practicing and getting ready for this ball game.”
Randall has passed for 1,965 yards and 19 touchdowns with 466 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. For his career the athletic QB has 6,209 passing yards, 46 TD passes with 29 interceptions and 1,481 rushing yards with 11 TDs.
“It’s my last college game and I won’t have any more chances after this,” he says. “It’s a big game. I’ve wanted to be in a BCS bowl game ever since I came in my freshman year and I finally have the opportunity so I definitely want to go out on top.”
Randall has played his final season in Blacksburg, Va., as a graduate student studying health promotions after receiving a degree in sociology after three years.
After struggles and criticism early in their careers both Randall and Campbell hope to end their collegiate playing days with a win in a BCS bowl and a Top 10 finish.
“When you’ve got a quarterback like Jason and a quarterback like Bryan, there’s probably some times during their career when they were questioned,” Stinespring says. “That’s part of this game. You’ve got two guys that have suffered through the trials and tribulations of the quarterback position. Both of them stand for something that’s very important*that which doesn’t break you makes you stronger. Nothing ever broke these guys.”