When Delvon Randall played as a sophomore at Gateway High School in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, he focused on eating.
Randall enjoys the fried chicken from Hook Fish & Chicken a couple blocks from his house in Pittsburgh, but he would rather feast on the football field with takeaways, touchdowns and big hits.
“Basically eating is playing well, making plays and doing what every alpha athlete should do,” said Anthony Davis, who played with Randall at Gateway and is now a redshirt-junior defensive back at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
At Gateway, Randall, Davis and Montae Nicholson, now a safety for the Washington Redskins, formed “The Eat Team.”
“Just eat, eat, eat and keep eating,” Randall said. “I’m never going to be satisfied with anything.”
Randall, a junior safety, leads Temple with three interceptions and ranks second with 54 tackles. His streak of three consecutive games with an interception ended on Oct. 21 against Army West Point, which primarily runs the ball.
In 2016, Randall led the team with four interceptions and recovered two fumbles.
At Gateway, Randall, Davis and Nicholson used to compete for how many takeaways they could force and bring back to their coach, Terry Smith. After coaching Gateway from 2002-12, Smith coached wide receivers at Temple in 2013 and has been the defensive recruiting coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Penn State since 2014.
Davis remembers when Randall scored the touchdown during their sophomore year at Antimarino Stadium in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, that sparked the creation of “The Eat Team” in 2012.
Randall made a catch over a Greater Latrobe Senior High School defensive back in the end zone.
Davis, who watched from the sideline, ran toward the end zone, and he and Randall began pretending to “eat,” motioning as if eating with a spoon.
“They competed so much sometimes it got a little hostile in a positive way,” Smith said. “They wanted to be ‘the guy.’ … It was like iron sharpening iron, because you had good-on-good battling and competing. They set goals for themselves to achieve.”
Randall and Davis aren’t on the same team anymore, but they still compete for the most interceptions. During the season, they talk via FaceTime, over the phone or text after their games. Davis is tied for second with three interceptions on the Crimson Hawks.
“I tell him, ‘I’m going to have more picks than you,’” Davis said.
“Most of the time [Temple is] on TV, so I’ll watch the little recaps and he usually always has a little play on one of the recaps,” he added.
Ever since Randall started playing football, he dreamed of playing in the NFL. During his sophomore year of high school -— with only one offer from the University of Toledo — he watched the 2012 NFL Draft thinking his dreams could soon become reality.
Once Temple hired coach Geoff Collins in December 2016, Randall said he immediately thought of the defensive backs Collins coached as the University of Florida’s defensive coordinator.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, teams selected former Florida defensive backs Marcus Maye, Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor in the second round. Former Florida defensive backs Vernon Hargreaves and Keanu Neal were selected in the first round in 2016.
Collins said Randall was like a “sponge” during the offseason and came into the season on a mission.
In February, inside defensive coordinator Taver Johnson’s office at Edberg-Olson Hall, Collins, Randall and senior safety Sean Chandler dug into Collins’ catalog of defensive back film to watch Neal, Wilson and Tabor’s techniques.
“We watched those films and then we watched NFL films because our defense is very similar to what they run at the Falcons, what they run at the Seahawks and what they run with the Cardinals,” Collins said. “So we’ll watch that tape over the summer, let ’em see the things that we are doing from our scheme that they’re working in the NFL.”
Smith said Randall, Davis and Nicholson won Gateway a lot of games during their careers. Smith added he wasn’t surprised by Randall’s performance over the past two seasons.
Chandler hasn’t been shocked by it either.
“I’ve been knew [Randall] was a baller since he got here his freshman year,” Chandler said. “It’s not a surprise to me. Even last year he balled out. I already knew he had this in him.”