The impression OSU’s newest football coach Paul Randolph leaves

The impression OSU’s newest football coach Paul Randolph leaves

New Oklahoma State defensive line coach Paul Randolph is a 26-year coaching veteran whom former players laud for his off-the-field mentoring.

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

| Feb 21, 2024, 8:00am CST

Sam Hutchens

By Sam Hutchens

Feb 21, 2024, 8:00am CST

STILLWATER — Their funniest memories of Paul Randolph are the impressions.

Randolph, a 26-year coaching veteran, was hired on Jan. 11 to replace Greg Richmond as Oklahoma State’s defensive line coach. He comes to Stillwater after 13 coaching stops at places including Pittsburgh, Tulsa, Rice, and Alabama. He also had a 10-year career as a defensive lineman in the Canadian Football League.

Interviews with some who have played under new Oklahoma state defensive line coach Paul Randolph portray him as someone you can joke with and cry with. 

Former Rice wide receiver Andray Downs said Randolph talks with passion. Former Tulsa linebacker Donnell Hawkins said Randolph, a Gainesville, Georgia native, has a slight country twang.

“His voice is very distinct,” former Tulsa defensive back Trent Wilkins said. “You won’t ever have to wonder who’s talking to you.”

To the delight of the players in Tulsa’s locker room from 2007-10, Randolph was the perfect subject for Rashad Robinson, a defensive end and talented impressionist. Robinson’s impersonations were the catalyst for many laughs in the Golden Hurricanes locker room.

“Coach Randolph had a lot of experience getting me right at that time, in multiple ways,” Robinson said, laughing. “I think I heard his voice just a little bit more than other people. We spent a lot of time together.”

Put his voice aside, though, and there’s something about Randolph that is hard to imitate.

Former TU defensive lineman Cory Dorris puts Randolph in a small group.

“Coach Randolph treated me like a son and I treated him like a father,” Dorris said. “He and I were extremely close, to say the least. He was there for me in pretty dark times. I can honestly say he’s one of three coaches that I’ve ever cried with.”

Randolph moved often, following head coach Todd Graham at Rice (2006), Tulsa (2007-10), Pittsburgh (2011) and Arizona State (2012-15). Authenticity is the common thread throughout his coaching journey. Downs said he felt Randolph had conversations with his players to build genuine off-the-field relationships and not to merely check a box.

“He’ll encourage you,” former Tulsa linebacker Donnell Hawkins said. “He’ll make you feel like you’re at home. He’s always somebody you can talk to just about life.”

On the field, Randolph has a keen familiarity with the 3-3-5 scheme that defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo installed at OSU last season. It’s what they ran at Tulsa and Downs was at Rice when Randolph installed the three-down defensive lineman defense there in 2006.

Randolph doesn’t use curse words, but he can get a player’s attention and help them understand a scheme.

“(Todd) Graham was actually one of the first people to start running the 3-3-5,” Downs said. “So (OSU) is getting it from guys who were around it at the beginning of that defense.”

While at Alabama, Randolph was named one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation by Rivals. Robinson said Randolph was the reason he attended Tulsa. Randolph won over his parents immediately and has maintained a relationship with Robinson and his family. 

“Even to this day Coach Randolph is the type of guy that will send my parents messages and will send me messages just to check in,” Robinson said. “Every year, every holiday, he checks in.”

Two coaches reached out to Dorris after he had back surgery in 2013. One was Randolph. Dorris was not surprised.

“I wish I was still in better touch with the man,” Dorris said. “I’m not. But at any point if he called me at 3 a.m. and needed to dig a hole, I’d be the first one there with a shovel.”

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Sam Hutchens covers Oklahoma State sport for Sellout Crowd. He interned for The Stillwater News Press in 2021 and The Guthrie News Leader in 2022, where he won a first-place OPA award for in-depth reporting. He has also covered sports in southwest Oklahoma for The Lawton Constitution. He strives to tell you the OSU sports stories that you want to tell your friends about. You can email him at [email protected] and connect on Twitter (X) @Sam_Hutchens_

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