GULFPORT, Fla. — There was a lighthearted moment the other day as Temple prepared to face Florida International in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. Geoff Collins briefly turned from coach to media member.
As the media was interviewing Delvon Randall, Collins got in his two cents with the junior safety.
"With Coach Collins' track record of coaching DBs, what does it feel like to play in the same scheme as a Marcus Maye, a Keanu Neal, some of the great players Coach Collins has coached?" Collins asked.
Collins was the defensive coordinator the previous two years at Florida. Maye was a second-round draft choice by the New York Jets in 2017. Neal was a first-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2016.
When Randall realized who was asking the question, he cracked up before giving his answer.
"I am just trying to be a first-rounder like them, Coach Collins, you know," Randall said with a smile. "DB U, that is what we are now, DB U."
The fact that Collins mentioned those two former Florida stars while talking to Randall was no accident. Collins has said repeatedly that Randall plays like many of the top Gators stars he coached.
Randall's season has been especially impressive because he has been fighting through an ankle injury.
"There was a four-week stretch when he didn't get to practice much but went out every game and laid it on the line," Collins said.
Randall has been able to rest recently. The Owls haven't played since Nov. 25, when they won at Tulsa, 43-22, to become bowl-eligible. He mostly appreciates the time off.
"I am still a little banged up, but I am good," Randall said. "I am always going to be good."
That's certainly the way to describe the play of the hard-hitting 6-foot-1, 210-pounder. This season, Randall was Temple's only player to earn first-team all-American Athletic Conference honors. He had a team-high four interceptions and was second on the team with 76 tackles in the regular season.
When last year's individual honors were released, Randall's name was nowhere to be found. Not among 29 players on the first all-AAC team, or the 29 on the second team. His name wasn't even listed with the seven who earned honorable mention.
He isn't one to seek individual accolades, but not earning any honors stung — especially after he led the 2016 AAC champions with four interceptions and was third on the team with 65 tackles in his first season as a starter.
"I feel blessed to make all-conference," Randall said. "I didn't make anything last year. I felt I deserved it and just played through it and didn't worry about it."
Randall, who saw extensive special-teams time as a freshman, has made a reputation as a playmaker. He is 12th on Temple's all-time list with eight interceptions.
"The big thing with him is how intelligent he is, and his ability to anticipate," Collins said. "He anticipates the quarterback and has unbelievable ball skills."
This year, Randall has become a leader. Collins, whether serving as his coach or a reporter, has appreciated his player's contributions to the Owls.