Nov. 8, 2008
By Phil Landry
Special to GoHolyCross.com
Seniors Dominic Randolph and Daryl Brown were honored when they were named captains of the Holy Cross football team before the season began. As captains and friends, Randolph and Brown understand the leadership they are expected to show on and off the field. Both players welcome the responsibility and have risen to the occasion to lead the Crusaders into battle every week.
Randolph's playing career at Holy Cross started the same way his young football career did. In his first game as a sixth grader, Randolph broke his arm and missed the remainder of the year. As a freshman, he was injured in the first junior varsity game, and was forced to sit out the rest of the season. He then earned the starting quarterback job as a sophomore, only to suffer another injury in the season-opener at Georgetown. But since moving back into the starting lineup in the fifth game of 2006, Randolph has gone on to start every contest for two and a half years, while becoming one of the most prolific passers in Holy Cross history.
Heading into this week's game with Fordham, the native of Amelia, Ohio, ranks first all-time at Holy Cross in career touchdown passes (72), completions (742) and completion percentage (.636), second in pass attempts (1,166), and third in passing yards (8,534) and yards of total offense (8,833). He currently leads the nation in total offense and completions, while standing second in passing yards. Randolph has also set a Holy Cross record with 15 career 300-yard passing games.
Players on the sidelines realize the ability and maturation of their quarterback. "He has always been a playmaker, but his knowledge of the game has really improved," said Brown. "You can not shake him -- he is always having fun and leading. I have seen him complete passes that I have never seen before."
Despite the accolades he has received over his career, including being selected as the 2007 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, Randolph remains humble and gives credit to his teammates. "With this opportunity comes expectations and pressure," said Randolph. "But it takes away a lot of pressure when you can let your teammates make plays for you and make you look good. We have some phenomenal athletes on this team, and that makes my job a lot easier."
Randolph recognizes the team effort that has led to the Crusaders' victories this season. "I think we have shown great character, poise and potential for the Patriot League title this year. A bunch of guys have stepped up, from the underclassmen to the upperclassmen," continued Randolph. "I also have to give all the credit to Chris Smith, Mason Olson, Aaron Jones, Rob Petrosino and Chris Poole. It all starts with our offensive line -- without them we can not do anything."
Randolph's teammates appreciate not only the player he is on the field, but also the character he shows off of it. "Through all of his success and accolades, he's been so humble," said Brown. "He always puts the team first, he is never satisfied and he never feels like he has arrived."
The same modest attitude is held by Brown as the leader of the defense. As a defensive back, the Stone Mountain, Ga., native has proven himself as a defensive force, ranking third on the team in tackles and leading the team in interceptions.
While some of his teammates poke fun at Brown for imitating Philadelphia Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, they believe in him once he steps onto the field. "He is pound-for-pound one of the strongest guys I have ever met, and he is a great athlete," said Randolph. "We trust him leading the defense."
Brown does not take serving as a team captain lightly. "Being one of the captains is something I take a lot of pride in. I think the best way to lead is through example. It is not about what you say, it is about what you do," continued Brown. "Dominic and I always say before every game and practice, `the speed of the leader determines the pace of the pack.' How you respond to adversity will determine how others will respond."
The importance of defense in football is undeniable and Brown believes in the value of preparation and teamwork that leads to success. "As a safety, you are the quarterback of the defense, so I always want to prepare for the games and put my team in the best situation to win," said Brown. "I love the collective aspect of playing defense. You do not get all the accolades that an offensive player will get, but you are just as important."
Brown's leadership also values the character lessons that coach Gilmore has instilled in his team. "He expects the most out of us on the field and in the classroom. He recruits student-athletes and puts the emphasis on being a student first," said Brown. "This is an opportunity to play Division I college football, but more importantly, an opportunity to get a top rate education. Coach expects us to mature not only as players, but also in our day-to-day lives and in the type of men we are.
"My coaches have influenced me throughout my playing career, and not just in football. They have also taught me life skills through the game. They have taught me things that go far beyond football," continued Brown. "What makes this game so great is that it molds people's character. You are going to have to put the game down at some point, and it is what you take from the game that is so important."
Brown's co-captain has witnessed him emerging as a leader. "He is one of the hardest working guys I have ever met," said Randolph. "He is a great leader, teammate and person."
The chemistry between the two captains comes from a friendship lasting many years. "The past two summers we have been able to work together and live together, having the same internship," said Randolph. "We have become great friends through that."
Both players are hoping that their leadership will bring an attitude of winning to the team for the rest of the season and beyond. "Our goal is to win the Patriot League and make it to the playoffs, but it does not stop there. We want to go as far as possible in the playoffs. We feel as though we have the talent and ability to accomplish those goals and that we control our own destiny," said Brown.
This story originally appeared in the November 8 edition of the Holy Cross Gameday program, for the contest between the Crusaders and Fordham. To order a copy of the program, click here.