Rankin Talks SEC Transition

One of the top recruiting targets for Mississippi State in the past calendar year was JuCo offensive tackle Martinas Rankin. Billed as the nation's top offensive tackle from the junior college talent pool, Rankin signed on with the Bulldogs and enrolled in time for spring practice. Now on campus, the Mendenhall, Mississippi native is learning the SEC ropes.

Martinas Rankin profile

"Things are going well and I am making progress every day," Rankin said. "There are a lot of things that I have to work on going into the summer, so that I can contribute this fall. I am just taking it all day by day and learning."

Rankin reports that he hopes to roll out with the first team this fall, but that this spring he is having to earn his Bulldog wings as he learns a new way to do things.

"I can't say I did expected it or that I didn't," Rankin said of running second team in the early going. "I knew coming in that nothing was given and that everything was going to have to be earned. I knew coming in as a #1 guy, that I was going to be knocked down to ground zero. I knew I was going to have to come in and build self up and prove myself. I knew it was going to be this way, so I tried to prepare myself for it before I got here.

"It can be frustrating at times, but I feel like I have been coping with everything well. I am making progress."

Rankin has worked on both the left and right sides of the line this fall. While the Bulldogs are replacing a pair of interior OLs, all of the talk surrounding Rankin's future position has been outside protecting the edge.

"I really have no true projection," Rankin said of which tackle spot he will play. "I think Coach (John) Hevesy is starting me out on the right side, so that I can learn to play them both. I have been on the left for so long that it is something that I have to work on. I think learning to play on the right side is better for me and my future that way I can play wherever the team needs me."

Learning to play in the SEC has provided some unique challenges for Rankin. While the demands are many, the talented sled pusher reports that he is a quick study.

"It has been an adjustment in every category," Rankin said. "Everything is more challenging from the weight room, to the running and all of that. You have to push yourself on every rep and the speed of the game is a little different. The main thing is learning to play from whistle to whistle. in junior college, I could hit a guy and he would stop. In the SEC, nobody stops."

The move to the land of college football giants has been made a bit easier due to the direction of Bulldog big man boss, John Hevesy. Rankin reports that everything the veteran coach told him on the recruiting trail matches the reality he has found in Starkville.

"One of the things that I can tell you is that Coach Hevesy was the same as a recruiter as he is now," Rankin said. "He told me straight. He told me that he was going to be hard on me from day one and he has been. He told me when he was recruiting me that it wasn't going to be easy and that nothing was going to be given to me. He told me that I was going to have to work hard for everything. I was prepared for all of this when I got here. Everything he told me was true."

Rankin will get to put on the Maroon and White this weekend and play in Davis Wade stadium for the first time in front of the Mississippi State faithful. The talented junior is eager to show his new family what he can do.

"I know people want to see how I am going to do in the SEC," Rankin said. "I used to almost pick on people in JuCo. Now I am up here with the big boys and people want to see if I am getting run over or if I am running over people. I plan to be the one running over people."

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