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,
"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
"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,