The proximity to the Pittsburgh Steelers stood out for James Randle Wednesday at Pitt’s South Side facility, but what stood out the most was the actual talent Pitt has put into the NFL in recent seasons.
“The wall with the players with the awards they’ve won each season,” Randle told PSN about his favorite part of his Pitt visit. “I didn’t know that LeSean McCoy played for them. I didn’t know that Aaron Donald played for them, I didn’t know — or James Conner.”
Randle, a 2024 four-star wide receiver from Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Florida, made his first visit to Pittsburgh in order to continue building his relationship with Pitt, and he came away impressed by what he saw in person.
“I loved the visit, I loved the visit,” Randle said. “It was a good visit, a good time hanging with the coaches, taking pictures, seeing how Pittsburgh looks and everything.”
— James Randle (@JamesRandlejr6) July 27, 2022
Randle has been able to build a strong relationship with Pitt’s coaching staff since being offered back on May 7, and while he was able to share some good conversations with head coach Pat Narduzzi during his visit about the recruiting process, what Narduzzi likes about Randle’s game and how Pitt really operates, his strongest connection has been with wide receivers coach Tiquan Underwood.
“(Underwood’s) a good person,” Randle said. “I love everything. I love how he talks, and the connection we’ve got. We’ve been building a good relationship so far. Every time we talk, it’s always a good time talking.”
While it’s not a conversation every single day type of relationship at this point, considering Randle is still only a rising high school junior, he said that every talk with Underwood is really, really good. The relationship between the pair continues to get stronger with every conversation.
Randle was able to continue to bond with Underwood and Narduzzi in person Wednesday, and he was able to get more of a feel for just what kind of program Pitt is. The Steelers connection — a surprising turn of events — was something that caught his eye, but the people in the program made a strong impression.
“It was a good, chill vibe, but it was lit though because everyone has a good relationship,” Randle said. “A lot of good people.”
As a sophomore at Mainland, Randle led the Buccaneers with 22 receptions for 448 yards (20.4 yards per reception) and six touchdowns. With the speed to blow by defenders and a sure-handed grip in a 6-foot, 175-pound frame, Randle has emerged as one of the top-rated receivers in the class.
And while Randle didn’t watch a whole lot of someone like Larry Fitzgerald while he played with the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL, he’s definitely aware of Pitt’s former Biletnikoff Award winner now and would feel great to be able to potentially break program records set by an NFL great.
247Sports rates Randle as the 40th-ranked recruit in the class (seventh-ranked wide receiver and the 11th-ranked recruit from Florida) while Rivals rates him as the 121st-ranked recruit in the class (14th-ranked wide receiver and 31st-ranked recruit from Florida). On3 rates him as the 110th-ranked recruit in the class (18th-ranked wide receiver and 24th-ranked recruit from Florida).
With offers from Coastal Carolina, Florida, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, South Florida, Tennessee and UCF, Randle has seen his recruiting chase pick up this spring, and he’ll be at Florida and Florida State this weekend.
Randle is already able to see himself making it back out to Pittsburgh for a visit at some point, with nothing set in the near future, and the first visit has helped Pitt stand out as an early name to consider.
“They’re standing in a good position,” Randle said. “I loved the visit, I loved how it was when I first went up there. My first time being there, it was a good feeling, so we’ll see.”