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Cowboy Comparisons: Justice Hill vs. Joseph Randle

You get to pick one. Justice or Joe?



I, like the rest of you, have been doing everything I can to weather what the longest sports summer of our lifetimes. At the very least, we’re still four months away from being able to scratch our college football itch.

So in the meantime, I started thinking about what an All-Pokes roster would look like if I had the entire catalog of Cowboys at my disposal. With all the great players that have come through Stillwater, there are going to have to be some tough decisions made. That’s where I want to go with this series of posts.

Obviously certain Cowboys are shoo-ins like Barry Sanders and Justin Blackmon, but what about the second-ballot OSU alums. How do you decide? I’m going to start with the dilemma of choosing between a pair of dynamic rushers who paved the way for two of the greatest offenses the school ever produced.

Which one would you take? Justice Hill or Joseph Randle? I had a favorite, but decided to let juxtaposition overrule supposition and left my mind open going in. We’ll look at three grading criteria before making passing judgment — physical tools, production and memorable moments.

1. The Tools

These physical characteristics will be validated by the numbers below, but they are still an important factor to look at, much like an NFL team would grade a player by his size, speed, running style, etc.

During his final year at OSU, Randle measured in at 6 feet and 200 pounds as compared to Hill’s 5-10, 180. Hill was more of the shifty scat back that OSU turned into an every-down rusher, but he still had the strength to truck-stick Sooners and break plenty a tackles. Randle represents the more prototypical first-down back and was a much better (if at least not much more proven) receiver out of the backfield.

At the NFL Combine, Randle ran a 4.63 40-yard dash, leapt 123 inches in the broad jump and boasted a 35-inch vertial leap. Hill had an impressive 4.4 40, cleared 130 inches in the broad jump and displayed his impressive ups recording a 40-inch vertical leap — all after adding eight pounds before the exhibition in Indy.

Verdict: Randle

Speed kills, but between his measurables and overall versatility, if I’m building an offense I’m taking Joe based on his physical traits and tools. By the way, OSU coaches have their eyes on another Randle who appears to have a similar skill set to his uncle.

2. The Numbers

The raw numbers are a little hard to compare because Randle spent his freshman season behind an All-American in Kendall Hunter, but they are still comparable. Here’s a look at the high points and where each lands in school history — Justice in his 36 games, Joe in his 39.

Numbers Comp Rushing Yds Rush TDs YPC YPG Rec./Yards Rec TDs Total TDs
Justice Hill 3,539 (7th) 30 (8th) 5.6 (8th) 98.3 (5th) 49/304 1 31
Joseph Randle 3,085 (9th) 40 (4th) 5.47 (9th) 79.1 108/917 3 43 (4th)

The overall numbers are similar with Justice owning the edge, even if slightly, in efficiency. But Joe holds the big edge in rushing scores and total TDs sitting behind only Barry, Thurman and Terry Miller (in differing orders) in both categories. To Justice’s credit, Joe played on three of the Top 5 OSU teams in terms of TDs scored in OSU history, while Justice played on just one.


Verdict: Hill

Despite the scoring slant and the caveats, I have to go with Justice because of what he was able to accomplish while stepping into a tough situation as a true frosh.

Just like Marshall Scott’s well-thought out Hot Take last week campaigning Mason Rudolph over Brandon Weeden, Randle had the far superior offensive line and offense than Justice’s.

Oklahoma State had no rushing game the two years before Justice arrived thanks to some down years in the trenches for the Pokes. Justice was the first 1,000-yard rusher at OSU since Randle left, ending a three-year drought.

3. The Moments

Measurables and production can get you so far, but football (at least to me as a spectator or fan) is about the memories and emotions tied to those mementos that endear us to a certain season or game or moment. Neither Justice nor Joe was short on memorable plays, though neither really gets his due.

Whether it was his four touchdowns in a walloping of No. 13 Baylor in 2011, his combined six TDs in back-to-back Bedlams or his ability to both run over and away from defenders, Joe was a force.

If you need your memory jogged, allow Joe to do the jogging (right to pay dirt).

Joe is still a little underrated for his part in one of the best offenses the Big 12 has ever seen. We often put Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon on these pedestals (and rightly so) and throw roses at the feet of Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken. But it was OSU’s running game, led by Randle and the previously lauded offensive line, that made the Cowboys so incredibly hard to slow down.

Justice is also criminally underrated thanks to an historic 2019 season by his former backup and successor Chuba Hubbard. But it’s important to remember that when Justice came along OSU was absolutely anemic on the ground and that he edged out a future NFL starter in Chris Carson for reps as a true freshman on the way to breaking OSU’s freshman rushing record.

Justice has an impressive portfolio of memorable plays highlighted by his ability to jump-cut a linebacker out of his cleats and his uncanny propensity to slip tackles for his size, a la Barry.

But the moment that sticks out most to me was his career game against OU in 2017. Justice gashed the Sooners defense for a career-high 228 yards and two scores. And he provided me with one of my favorite Bedlam GIFs regardless of outcome.

Verdict: Randle. Give me the Bedlam win at home over the Bedlam near-win at home.

My Pick: Joseph Randle

As I said, I came into this one with a pick in mind, and I absolutely planned on selecting the current Baltimore Raven over the former Dallas Cowboy whose career unfortunately ended due to struggles off the field.

Both were great college backs and both could be the starter for a Big 12 championship team, but give me Joe. If I’m building a roster, I’m valuing the versatility of Randle, his size and his ability to be an every-down back.




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