Mason Randall patiently waited for the chance to play quarterback at the University of San Diego.
He has finally received the opportunity as a fifth-year senior, but it wasn’t quite how he imagined it would be.
San Diego’s fall season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now, like other FBS and local high school teams, the Toreros are playing a truncated spring season.
Randall, the former Sacred Heart Prep star, is starting at quarterback and performing well, completing 68 percent of his passes and averaging just under 270 yards passing per game.
“When football was cancelled in the fall I got a little nervous,’’ Randall said. “Giving us half a season in the spring was nice.’’
The Toreros are 3-1 with two games remaining. They play teams from all over the country as part of the Pioneer Football League, and have already made trips this spring to Iowa to play Drake and to South Carolina to play Presbyterian. They have two games left, at home Saturday against Stetson and April 17 at Valparaiso.
With the NCAA having granted an extra year of eligibility for member athletes, Randall is looking forward to playing a full season in the fall. Once that season concludes he expects to graduate in December with a double major in marketing and communications.
San Diego still runs the West Coast Offense first installed when Jim Harbaugh was head coach and David Shaw was on his staff.
“A lot of teams now run the spread or the Air Raid, so we give teams a different look,’’ Randall said.
Like many former high school standouts making the transition to college, Randall cited the speed of the game as the biggest difference.
“At Sacred Heart we ran a very unique (fly) offense, so we saw the same coverage all the time,’’ Randall said. “In college we run a more balanced offense and see a ton of coverages.’’
Randall was a three-year starter at SHP and led the Gators to appearances in two state championship games. Though he’s lived in San Diego the past five years he still keeps up with his alma mater.
“I always like seeing updates,’’ he said. “I talk to (current SHP quarterback) Teddy Purcell when I’m in town and tell him to bring his receivers. I’m really happy for coach (Mark) Grieb.’’
His senior year he threw a touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Daschbach (now playing baseball in the Baltimore Orioles organization) in the final seconds after taking a lateral from wide receiver Nick O’Donnell on a trick play in a most memorable finish for the Central Coast Section championship.
During Randall’s first four years at San Diego he watched and learned as three-year starter Anthony Lawrence (who went on to play professionally in Japan) and Reid Sinnett (who made the taxi squad of the Miami Dolphins) played quarterback for the Toreros. He put that time to good use, increasing his knowledge of the game.
After hopefully playing a full season this fall, Randall said he will look at opportunities to continue playing -- overseas like Lawrence did or in the Canadian Football League if no tryout with an NFL team is forthcoming. And once his playing days are over, Randall said he’d like to go into coaching.
“The past five years being a backup quarterback I learned so much about offense and defense,’’ he said. “I will definitely look to get into coaching. I majored in marketing just in case, but I need to be around sports.’’