Tarboro's Tae Randolph slides into the secondary


Tarboro's Tae Randolph at Rocky Mount Mills on July 14, 2017.


Sports Writer

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tae Randolph didn’t expect to find himself in Bloomington, Ind, especially for a football camp.

But there he was, along with two of his Tarboro High School teammates and his defensive coordinator, at Indiana University in the middle of June.

Randolph, Devonta Davis and Melik Ward worked out among many Hoosier hopefuls from around the nation. And Randolph got exactly what he needed out of the trip. Sure, the recruiting attention was nice, but the biggest takeaway was a newfound confidence at a position he will play more of this season.

On top of running the Vikings’ offense at quarterback this fall, the Tarboro senior will slide into the open starting cornerback role left by Romello Denton-Pippin.

“It was a good experience,” Randolph said of the trip. “A lot of those people I didn’t know, so it made me go at people harder than I had before.”

“ . . . You saw the caliber of other players that you don’t go against daily, so now you can bring an extra intensity that you brought up there down here to show other guys that this is how hard you need to go.”

He found out at the camp that he was better at corner than he realized. Randolph played in the secondary during the NCHSAA 1-AA playoffs last season, but not enough to feel comfortable.

Fortunately, he’s stepping with belief into a defense that returns a big chunk of the guys in front of him. Tarboro returns eight defensive starters and 19 overall. Randolph said the continuity between everyone is strong.

“It makes us not stress as much because everybody should know what to do,” Randolph said. “We know our assignments, and we really shouldn’t need too much coaching from the coaches’ perspective. . . We know each other’s tendencies, but with the way we lost last year, we know how it feels to lose.”

Randolph and fellow seniors experienced their deepest playoff run together in 2016, advancing to the fourth round before falling to eventual 1-AA champ Wallace-Rose Hill.

The Vikings were halted in the third round during the three previous seasons.

Tarboro’s last state title came in 2011.

The last time the Vikings advanced to a title game was 2012. Five seasons without a trophy is a little too long in Tarboro time.

Randolph said everyone is painfully aware of that. His expectation is to erase that problem in December, when the title games will take place.

“Just talking with the boys — my brothers — we either win a championship or nothing else really,” Randolph said. “Nothing else really matters to us.”