Joe Rankin likes defying the odds. He did not start playing football until the 11th grade, yet Rankin was a four-year starter at cornerback for Morgan State, with 13 career interceptions. After graduating from Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Md., Rankin’s grades were not good enough for acceptance into Louisville, his first choice for college.
So Rankin became an excellent student at Morgan, graduating in December with a degree in physical education. Now Rankin is preparing for the NFL draft, after not being invited to the NFL combine later this month in Indianapolis. Rankin figures it’s time to defy the odds again. He sees himself playing on Sundays.
“I was kind of disappointed not to get an invite (to Indianapolis),” Rankin said during a telephone interview. “It just adds a little more flame to the fire, to kind of prove that I’m a top-notch player.
“I need to prove my level of play shouldn’t be held against me. Coming from a Division I-AA program, I definitely didn’t get the big stage on Saturdays. I need to prove I can play with the best of the best. I’m looking forward to playing at the highest level.”
Rankin hopes to make a strong impression at the regional combine being held March 30 at the Ravens practice facility in Owings Mills. With a strong showing there, and during other workouts, Rankin hopes his stock will rise. He is already on the NFL’s radar, with the Broncos, Buccaneers, Colts, and Raiders showing the most interest, according to Rankin.
At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Rankin believes he is versatile enough to defend both outside receivers and slot receivers. He wants to be drafted, but if he has to make it as a free agent, Rankin says he is ready.
“This is definitely not a new road for me,” Rankin said. “I kind of see myself as an underdog. It was the same in high school. “I think it’s very important to any player to be drafted. That’s why you see a lot of players in the league, even 10 years into their careers, who are still disappointed they didn’t get drafted, or drafted at a certain point. But if that happens to me it doesn’t stop my motivation, it doesn’t stop my grind. All I need to do is get my foot in the door and have an opportunity and I feel I’ll take full advantage.”