Rankin ready for his turn

Players come and go from a college football programs every year. Some come with a lot of hype, while others come in with barely a whisper and become All-Americans. One player who has been getting a lot of hype for two years is sophomore RB Louis Rankin. Fans have been clamoring to see the lightning-bolt from Stockton, California take the field and they should get the chance to see him a lot this season.

When Rankin came to Washington he was a 6-foot, 185 pound back who used his speed and quickness to make plays. He found out quickly that in the Pac 10, you can't "out-athlete" defenders and he worked on his style and it is beginning to pay off. Now he weighs in at a rock-solid 203 pounds and he's improved his technique as well.

"When I got here, I think I just had to work on being a more patient runner," Rankin told Dawgman.com following a workout. "Also as a person, I needed to work on being more humble. When I came here I was real cocky and I was a different type of runner. With patience I think I've improved that aspect a lot."

One person who's taken notice of Rankin's growth as a runner and as a person is running back's coach Trent Miles. "Louis has a lot of speed," Miles said. "In the past, he's always wanted to run to the side and get outside and make 15 cuts, but he's learning to get his shoulders square and get down hill.

"It has allowed him to get better at setting up his blocks and he's got a better understanding of where the holes are going to be. He's made a lot of progress as far as changing his running style, as far as just trying to shake everybody off and becoming more of a ‘let's get downhill and find a crease' type of a runner."

Following his redshirt season of 2003, Rankin was voted the offensive scout team player of the year for his work in preparing the defense for its weekly challenge. As a redshirt freshman in 2004, Rankin showed a lot of promise in training camp, but never saw the field much, only posting nine carries for 35 yards with a long run of nine yards.

"Last year was frustrating in a lot of ways for me and for the team," Rankin said. "But I guess we just have to move forward and learn from it. I know I have."

Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano and Miles have both hinted at a tailback by committee approach, as several of the players in the backfield have different talents. Junior Kenny James had been penciled in as the starter heading into camp, but an injured shoulder the first day workouts has limited him to individual drills an no contact.

Head coach Tyrone Willingham in a recent interview intimated that, while it doesn't mean James can't work his way back into the starting position, it may be very difficult for him to catch up before the season starts. Enter Rankin who has shown up ready this camp and seems primed for a breakout type season.

"He's a big-time competitor," Miles said referring to the fire in Rankin's belly. "If you challenge him he'll compete to show you what he can do."

Rankin has already faced one of the challenges he will face this season – limited carries – from his days as a Lincoln High Trojan. "When I was in high school, I usually came out after the first quarter," Rankin said with a smile. "We were usually up so big on people that, because my coach didn't want to run up the score on people, I only averaged like 13 carries a game."

Even though his touches were limited, Rankin still managed to finish second in the state of California with 41 touchdowns including 34 on the ground. He also rushed for 2,245 yards and was one of ten finalists for Cal-Hi Sports California Mr. Football award.

Entering his third year in the program, Rankin is ready for whatever challenges may lie ahead and he said he can't wait to get out on the field to face someone wearing a different jersey. "Man, I can't wait to hit somebody in a different uniform," Rankin said shaking his head. "I see (his Husky teammates) every day and it'll be nice to see someone in different colors."

As far as the sharing of carries is concerned, Ranking couldn't care less. "If (one of the other backs) is running the ball, I will cheer for them," Rankin said. "If I'm running the ball I know they're going to cheer for me. It's no big deal, because we all know what is up.

"It's not a competition thing for me. If I was competing against someone else, all I would try to do is be better than them, not to be the best I can be. I'm out there to do the best that I can do and if I do that, then the rest will take care of itself."

Look for Rankin and the other backs to take care of things this year and for the foreseeable future.

Louis Rankin

Dawgman.com Top Stories