Randle transfers to SIU

Troubled running back finished at Kansas

Former Kansas University running back John Randle was back in the news again Friday, but this time his actions were related to football instead of the law.

Southern Illinois coach Jerry Kill announced that Randle, who had six run-ins with police since arriving in Lawrence in the fall of 2003, has transferred to the university located in Carbondale, Ill.

“After sitting out last year, it’s going to take him a little while to get into it,” the Salukis coach said in a statement released by SIU. “But he could make an impact later on in the season, kind of like Brandon Jacobs did (in 2004). Do we know that yet? No. But we’re very fortunate to be able to give him a second chance.”

The 6-foot, 185-pound junior from Wichita Southeast’s most recent skirmish came April 15, when he was given a citation for disorderly conduct and battery when he allegedly slapped a 19-year-old woman who tried to break up a fight between Randle and Jerome Kemp (who was not cited). Kemp and Randle were high school and KU teammates.

Randle, who is enrolled in fall classes at SIU and took part in the Salukis’ first day of practice Friday, led the Jayhawks in rushing in 2004 when he ran for 540 yards. He also caught 35 passes for 274 yards and led KU in scoring with nine touchdowns – the biggest of which was a 43-yard highlight-reel run against Kansas State that helped end the Wildcats’ 11-year win streak over KU.

Kansas University's John Randle (1) escapes UNLV's Daniel Jones in this file photo from 2003. Randle, the Jayhawks' leading rusher in 2004, has transferred to Southern Illinois after his troubled times in Lawrence.

As a true freshman in 2003, Randle played offense and defense, earning honorable mention All-Big 12 Conference honors. Randle was the Jayhawks’ third-leading rusher with 503 yards and also had 22 tackles from the cornerback position.

But his problems on the police blotter overshadowed his prowess with the pigskin.

Randle was kicked off the KU squad March 14, 2004, after a series of arrests, including being charged with battery after allegedly hitting a man outside It’s Brothers Bar & Grill, 1105 Mass. Then, following another battery arrest on April 16, 2005, KU coach Mark Mangino promised to keep Randle on scholarship if the Wichita native chose to remain at Kansas and get his degree.

Randle, who has two years of eligibility left at SIU, declined outside football interest from several universities and stayed at KU – causing speculation that he had a chance to play football for the Jayhawks again.

That talked vanished after the fight with his teammate, but SIU’s Kill has been known to take chances with other players who have had trouble on Division I-A campuses.

Salukis senior tight end Braden Jones of Harrisburg, Ill., transferred last year to SIU after a similar stormy career at Northwestern.

“Coach Mangino, who I know very well, said he’s a guy who could have been a prolific Big 12 guy,” Kill said of Randle, who chose KU over Kansas State, Colorado, Michigan State and Missouri after compiling 1,757 yards and 17 scores as a senior at Southeast.

“He’s that type of athlete. He has tremendous skill and football instincts.”