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The Rankin file

October 11, 2004

Barry Faulkner

Though it was the 30 pounds he packed on prior to his senior season

at Newport Harbor High that made Andy Rankin a college football

prospect, it was a different sort of growth that led him to

contentment at Dartmouth College.

Rankin played sparingly as a high school junior, before filling

out to become a 6-foot-2, 215-pound starting outside linebacker on a

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Sailor squad that advanced to the 2000 CIF Southern Section Division

VI title game.

A quarterback and safety as a freshman and sophomore, Rankin

collected 65 tackles, third best among the 2000 Tars. He made the

All-Newport-Mesa defense and, with a 3.65 grade-point average

fortified by advanced placement courses, also made the short list for

recruiters at Dartmouth, Brown and Columbia.

"I never really thought that I would be playing college football,"

he said prior to committing to the Big Green, whom he hoped he could

help recapture the Ivy League dominance they displayed in the 1990s.

Upon arriving in Hanover, N.H., Rankin, who grew up dreaming of

playing at USC, quickly learned he had found the right level,

athletically.

"But I struggled a little my freshman year with my studies,"

Rankin said. "[Academics] was a really tough transition for me."

The frosty Northeastern weather, the literal polar opposite of his

balmy Back Bay roots, provided another dramatic deviation.

"When I was a little kid, watching the Green Bay Packers' games, I

thought it would be fun playing football in the snow. But then I came

out here and found out that every time you hit someone[in the cold

weather], your fingers hurt. And our winters last from football

season through about April."

Rankin, now 225 pounds, also said losing, a foreign concept at

Newport Harbor, has been sobering. Dartmouth, 2-8 the season before

he arrived, has posted consecutive records of 1-8, 3-7 and 5-5.

Rankin credited what he called the toughest nonleague schedule

among Ivy schools with its 0-4 start, but he believes the Big Green

can still salvage and record a winning season.

Still, Rankin bonded quickly with his teammates and wasted little

time moving up the depth chart at inside linebacker in the squad's

four-four scheme.

"I came in and got a chance to play as a freshman [23 tackles in

seven games], then was slated to start as a sophomore," Rankin said.

"But the last two seasons, I had my fair share of injuries."

A torn knee ligament, a broken thumb and a nagging hamstring

problem limited his time on the field as a sophomore and junior,

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