18 in 18: QB Blake Rankin

The first wave of Rutgers football incoming freshmen are a week away from enrollment for summer classes. Getting ready for training camp, ScarletReport.com is happy to bring back its freshman "18 and 18" series. To continue the daily feature, ScarletReport.com spoke to quarterback Blake Rankin, who is fighting fit after injury and ready to compete.

If the last three years of Rutgers football are any indicator, Bloomsburg Area (Pa.) quarterback Blake Rankin better pack his A game when he moves into his dorm in Piscataway this June.

A true freshman earned at least five starts in each of the last three seasons at quarterback and Rankin expects to compete when he enrolls June 24 and begins training camp later this summer. From Tom Savage to Chas Dodd to Gary Nova, quarterback is a position where early playing time has been available in recent years.

"I want to go out and compete like I'm the starter," said Rankin, who committed at the 2011 Rutgers spring game. "I'm going to do whatever it takes to get on the field. I'm sure Chas and Gary will be doing the same exact thing.

"I'm expecting it to be difficult. It's not high school anymore. I'm looking forward to the different challenges and I'm pretty excited for it."

After an ugly broken ankle to end his senior season at Bloomsburg, playing time was not in consideration. But two months in a boot and plenty of rehab has Rankin feeling 100 percent.

He gave the ankle its first true test Sunday, while at the first team practice for the Big 33 All-Star game, pitting the top high-school football players in Pennsylvania and Ohio against each other.

"It felt really good," Rankin said. "I didn't have any problems with my ankle at all. I didn't even really think about it. You couldn't really tell which one was hurt. It felt really good just to get back out on the field."

At Big 33 practices, Rankin is teammates with incoming freshmen J.J. Denman, Brandon Arcidiacono and Desmon Peoples.

"I knew they were good before, but you don't see so much of the linemen yet and everything," Rankin said. "We didn't have pads on [Sunday], but I've watched film on them plenty of times and they're just great. To see Des with the ball on his hands and to watch him cut, it's unbelievable."

At Rutgers, Rankin will also be joined by close friend Chris Muller. Not a member of the Big 33 squad, the Boyertown (Pa.) product projects as either a tackle or guard and could very well protect Rankin's blindside in training camp.

"He might let one [pass rusher] through, but it's probably my fault from all the trash we talk," Rankin said. "Actually, I feel confident in him blocking for me and it's going to be amazing to be his teammate. We're already really good friends."


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