Eastside High's Sheldon Rankins, a strong side defensive end out of Covington, GA has been a hot prospect this spring. The 6-foot-3, 250 pound prospect has 13 offers and this past weekend tripped to USF to check out the Bulls spring game.
"I went to South Florida for their spring game, it was real cool and really liked it," said Rankins. "I liked their attacking style of defense, and like what they do with their defensive linemen."
Rankins plays defensive end for Eastside and said he focused on the Bulls defensive line and the D-Ends in particular during the game.
"I liked how they play defense and the different schemes they used," said Rankins. "I was checking out their D-linemen and the different stunts they were doing. They got some pretty good players as for as D-ends and on the interior. I thought the whole D-line looked pretty good out there and I liked how the coaches used them throughout the game."
"I really like the stadium they play in, it's real nice," said Rankins. "It's top notch, and has a fantastic playing surface."
The Eastside defensive end arrived in Tampa early and was able to check out the USF campus and the surrounding city.
"Before the game we drove around the campus and it was real nice," said Rankins. "It's very organized and I liked the layout. You can find everything easily and it seemed like a real nice campus environment. I didn't get to see the facilities, but I will when I come back down."
"I never been to Tampa before and I really liked the city," said Rankins. "We got to drive around see everything, check out that really nice mall they had and see everything. The city has a lot going on."
Ranking did get to meet with the USF coaching staff and enjoyed watching them coach and spending time with them.
"I got to talk with Coach Shankweiler, both D-line coaches and with Coach Holtz. All of the staff is real cool," said Ranking. "Coach Shank is real cool and you can tell he's a player's coach and I like him a lot.
"The D-line coaches are all real cool and I really like them. I like their style of coaching and how they use their players and coach them up," said Rankins. "They use an attacking style of defense and just let the D-line go at it. They told me how much they like me and how I look on film, and how I get to the quarterback, and want to get me down there.
"I spoke to Coach Holtz for a little bit and he told me how glad he was to get me down there, and he seemed like a real good coach," said Rankins. "I really like the whole coaching staff and I look forward to coming back this summer, see the facilities and get a chance to spend more time."
As a junior, Rankins recorded 55 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks, one interception, three pass breakups and one fumble recovery. After the season Rankins was named second-team 3A All-State, first-team all-region and first-team all-county. Ranking said what makes him a good football player.
"My hard work, my determination, and I have a good IQ of the game," said Rankins. "I know what to do in certain situations and know what the offense is trying to do to take me out of the game. I'm strong and I‘ve got good speed off of the edge and basically I think I bring the total package as a player.
In the classroom Rankins carries a 3.5 GPA and scored a 17 on the ACT. He's all ready qualified but will retake both tests this June.
"I'm all ready qualified but I'm retaking both tests to see if I can improve on them," said Rankins. "All the coaches say my academics is another thing they really like in me."
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive lineman has been getting plenty of recruiting interest and now up to 13 offers including ones from USF, Michigan State , NC State, Louisville , Stanford , Boston College , North Carolina , Nebraska , Illinois among others and said Clemson is about to offer. Ranking said he has several schools that are standing out to him right now.
"I like North Carolina, I like USF and I like Louisville. Clemson is looking pretty good right now too," said Rankins. "I don't have a favorite and those are my top four schools."
The standout defensive end talks about what he likes about his top four schools.
"With UNC, I liked them ever since I went up there for a camp. I like the whole atmosphere, the coaching staff, and everything about it. Louisville I followed Charlie Strong at Florida and knew when he went up there he'd turn that program around and have had my eye on them. South Florida has been on the rise and they're an upcoming team and I've had my eye on them since I've been watching their D-linemen like Jason Pierre-Paul and others. When I went on my visit it seemed like a real cool place, and I like the coaches. With Clemson, I've always liked them after watching guys like C.J. Spiller, and have liked them ever since."
The Georgia prospect has already made trips to UNC, Florida, Georgia, and Georgia Tech , and plans on being busy the next few months with visits and combines.
‘I'm going to Clemson this weekend, and after that I'll have the Nike Camp," said Rankins. "After that I'll go to Mississippi State and then in May I'll be at Louisville and Vanderbilt ."
"I'll definitely be making a return trip to USF this summer to check out everything on campus and see the facilities," said Rankins. "I want to be able spend more time with the staff and get shown around and meet the players."
Rankins said he doesn't have a timetable as to when he'll be making his choice, but does know what he's looking for in a program.
"I'll decide once I feel that I really know where I want to be for the next 4-5 years of my life," said Rankins. "First of all, I'm not looking to be given a spot, but I want the opportunity to come in and show my skills at defensive end and that I can contribute. Secondly I'm looking for a great education, because I'm going to go pre-med, and third I'm looking for where I get the feeling that it's like a family and everybody is close."