Tom Randall considered himself a basketball player for most of his time at Mason City High School in the 1970s.
After all, Randall still holds the single-game school record for rebounds with 21.
Football was almost an afterthought for the former Iowa State defensive lineman, who will go into the Cyclone Hall of Fame in the fall.
Randall said he remembers thinking that he was “no good” at football heading into his senior season as a Mohawk.
He missed his sophomore football season because of an injury.
He then did not play a single down of varsity football as a junior.
In the preseason before Randall’s senior football season in 1973, the Globe Gazette took a photo of the Mohawks’ top prospects for its annual preview edition.
“They put in 14 of my teammates and I wasn’t even in the picture,” Randall recalled. “I remember thinking that, ‘I’m no good.’
“We had some really good players returning and I didn’t deserve it. So I kind of came out of nowhere. I was all about basketball.”
But Randall certainly shined in his only season as a Mohawk starter and he credits assistant coach Ed Lenius.
“He was it,” Randall said. “He got inside my head and made me into a football player.”
Randall became so good at football during his senior season at Mason City that Division I schools from all over the country started recruiting the defensive lineman.
Nebraska, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Miami, Iowa and Iowa State all wanted Randall to play for their school.
They wanted him for football — not basketball.
Randall said he wanted to stay close to home, so it came down to Iowa State and Iowa.
“At the time Iowa State had been to some bowl games,” Randall said. “Both schools were attractive to me, but it came down to I thought Iowa State had a chance to have more success.”
The Cyclones and Randall had success under coach Earle Bruce.
Randall was a first-team all-Big Eight defensive lineman in 1977 and helped the Cyclones earn a Peach Bowl bid.
Randall said Bruce asked a lot out of his players.
“He was unbelievable,” Randall said. “We did a whole lot of hitting and had a lot of contact.
“After the practices, games were a breeze.”
So 34 years later, Randall is being inducted into the school’s hall of fame.
One of the first to receive a phone call from Randall after learning of his honor was Lenius.
“I told him if it hadn’t been for him this wouldn’t have happened,” Randall said.
Did you know?
That Lake Mills’ Mike Stensrud (football) was inducted into the Iowa State Hall of Fame in 2000.
Also, Mason City’s Tim Krieger (wrestling) went into the hall in 2003.
And Manly’s Brian Tietjens (track and field) was inducted in 2004.
Reach Kirk Hardcastle at 421-0540 or email@example.com.