By Cody Stark Assistant Sports Editor
HUNTSVILLE - Senior Bryan Randolph is finally getting his shot to be Sam Houston State's starting quarterback.
After serving as a backup to Rhett Bomar and Blake Joseph the previous two years, Randolph will be the man under center when the Bearkats open the season against Baylor in Waco on Saturday night at 6.
Randolph won the job back during the spring in a head-to-head competition with junior Greg Sprowls. After four scrimmages during 2010 preseason camp, the senior continued as the Kats' number one signal caller.
"I finally become the starter now after playing behind Rhett and Blake the last couple of years," Randolph said Tuesday afternoon. "As a team we are all ready to go and excited about finally getting the chance to play a team other than us."
Randolph is the most experience quarterback at the collegiate level on the Bearkat roster. Before transferring to SHSU, Randolph threw for 1,733 yards at Moorpark College in California on the way to earning All-Western State Conference honors.
Sam Houston learned this week that Auburn transfer Tyrik Rollison, the Kats' backup to Randolph, is likely done for the season after suffering a broken wrist during the final intrasquad scrimmage of preseason camp last Thursday night at Bowers Stadium.
Rollison was one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation two years ago. He was pushing Randolph for a chance to play this season, even though Rollison had some catching up to do in learning the new system, before the injury occurred on a fumble recovery toward the end of the scrimmage.
Rollison met with a specialist in Houston on Tuesday and will have surgery next week to place pins in his broken wrist, which is on his non-throwing arm. He is expected to be out of action for three months.
"It's really a tough break for Rollison," SHSU head coach Willie Fritz said. "He redshirted last season, so he was really excited about getting the chance to play here. He is going to be a great quarterback here at Sam, but it doesn't look like it is going to be this season.
"It's a test for him to see if he can stay focused academically and learn the offense this season. He has to find a way to help us as a teammate."
Randolph has started one game while at Sam Houston State. When Joseph went down with an ankle injury last season, Randolph got the nod against Stephen F. Austin.
Things didn't go smoothly in the 42-3 loss to the Lumberjacks at Homer Bryce Stadium.
"I learned a lot from that game, got a lot of experience," Randolph said. "It was a rough game for me obviously. SFA was a good team. I learned what is expected of you to be a starter and hopefully I can carry it over into this season."
Aside for the start against SFA, Randolph has played sparingly the past two seasons. He attempted only nine passes in 2008 and seven of those came in the second half of a 49-33 victory at Gardner-Webb.
But the Sam Houston State coaching staff has confidence that Randolph can take the next step this season.
"The thing about Bryan is he has a pretty good grasp of what we are doing and he has experience," Fritz said. "The bad thing for him is that going back to junior college, this is the third different system he has had. But what he brings to the table is game savvy. He has been in that huddle before.
"You want a guy that has a presence out there and is focused on doing a good job on the next play. He doesn't let things bother him."
Sam Houston will open the season Saturday Sept. 4 at Baylor and follow that game with a second road contest Sept. 18 at Western Illinois.
Sam Houston opens its home schedule on Saturday Sept. 25 with Bearkat Family Weekend against Gardner-Webb. Special events during the evening include an appearance by the Houston Texans cheerleaders, a salute to Hillcrest Heroes honoring local police and fire-fighters, a huge pregame tailgate and a postgame fireworks display.
Season tickets for Bearkat football at Bowers Stadium are available through the new exciting "2-2-2" offer, order your tickets now by going to the Bearkat tickets page on www.gobearkats.com or call (936) 294-1729.
The "2-2-2" offer also includes two corner tickets to the "Battle of the Piney Woods" game with Stephen F. Austin at Reliant Stadium in Houston on October 23.
Fans also may visit the Sam Houston athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House located in the south end zone of Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.