Bob Gray and Mike Tice have encountered Randall McDaniel at very different stages of his athletic life. Gray coached McDaniel in the early 1980s at Agua Fria High in Avondale, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb. Tice coaches McDaniel today with the Minnesota Vikings.
This contact with McDaniel spans nearly two decades, yet the
remarks of Gray and Tice are nearly interchangeable as they try to describe McDaniel's personal qualities and athletic abilities.
"It was always hard to get Randall to say a lot," Gray said.
"After he played in the Rose Bowl for Arizona State, we were able to get him to speak to our students at an assembly.
"All the things that Randall had accomplished - being an All-America, outstanding lineman in the Pac-10, helping Arizona State to the Rose Bowl for the first time and winning - were mentioned.
"Then Randall got up and said the accomplishment of which he was most proud was that, from his first day of kindergarten until he graduated from high school, he never missed a day of school.
"That's Randall. He's always been someone you could rely on."
Tice was an 11-year NFL veteran when he came to the Vikings in 1992 and first encountered McDaniel. Tice returned in 1996 to coach tight ends, then was promoted to his current position - offensive line coach - in 1997.
"Randall is a very focused man, very much to himself," Tice
said. "He doesn't want to draw attention to himself. He's a silent leader. He leads by what he does in a game. He sets such a high standard. When we watch film, the other linemen see what Randall has done, and they want to be better players."
McDaniel was an all-state player in three sports at Agua Fria High: tight end in football, center in basketball and sprinter in track.
Gray coached McDaniel as a sophomore in football and for three years in track and field. Randall still holds the Agua Fria record for 100 meters at 10.64 seconds.
"The 10.64 was electronically timed in the state meet, so it's legit," Gray said. "He made the eight-man state finals in the 100. Vance Johnson - later the receiver for the Broncos - won that race. Randall probably would have beaten him, but he lost a shoe coming out of the blocks. "Randall had size-16 feet, and the largest track shoe we could find for him was a 15. I cut out the back of the shoes to give him some room, and then taped them. The state meet was in May, so it was very hot. Randall's shoe stuck on that hot track and came off.
"Randall also ran close to 50-flat for 400 meters. The kid was a natural athlete. He weighed around 245 pounds and Arizona State's first thought was that it might put him at safety. Believe me. He could have played there. He could have played anywhere on the field."
Tice agreed. "I would have loved to see him play fullback," he said. "Can you imagine Randall roaring into the hole, looking for people to block, play after play?
"When I was here as a player, they were using Randall as the fullback in goal-line situations or third-and-short. I remember him being at fullback against Chicago and knocking Mike Singletary dizzy.