Playing diferent spots on defense, Covington (Ga.) junior defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins says it's all about the preparations. Judging from his numbers last year, it is easy to see the 6-foot-3 and 260-pound Rankins has prepared well.
Of his 55 tackles in 2010, over half of his stops were in the backfield with 14 sacks and 29 tackles for loss.
"We will begin spring practice next week and I will again mostly be at defensive end," said Rankins. "But I will also play some in the middle of the line in certain situations and then some at outside linebacker in some pass-rush situations. It requires a little more work to be prepared for those spots. But I don't mind it because at the end of the day, I just love football.
"I love studying film and studying where I have to line up in different situations and I love being versatile on the field. My main focus this spring is to learn to fight those double teams because I expect to see a lot of those this year."
Naturally, Rankins will also see a battle in his recruitment. He is close to 15 total offers and owns offers from the likes of Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Nebraska, North Carolina, Stanford, N.C. State and Illinois among others.
"I visited South Florida, North Carolina and Clemson this spring," said Rankins. "I also went to see Georgia, Georgia Tech and Florida. And this summer I am going to camps at Louisville, Ole Miss and Mississippi State."
And of his offers, Rankins said he has singled out five schools on his favorites' list.
"My top 5 right now with no specific leader would be Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Louisville, South Florida and North Carolina," said Rankins. "I have followed all those schools closely. North Carolina has a good atmosphere and a good college town and I had a good feel when I visited there. South Florida has the beach and good Florida weather and is a fun place to be. Louisville is also a good school and good program and they've recruited me well.
"I know Mississippi State is on the rising trend in the SEC. I followed Coach (Dan) Mullen when he was at Florida with his offense and coaching Tim Tebow. I knew when he went to Mississippi State that he would be able to put the athletes in the right position and turn that program around. That offer really stood out to me when I got it. And Ole Miss, I have a good bond with their coaches and I want to see more of them this summer."
As far as his college decision goes, Rankins added he has no "time table" for that decision.
"I don't have a set time table," said Rankins. "It will be whenever I get that feel for where I want to be for the next four or five years. First off, I want to get a good education. I am looking to major in pre-med or be in the sports medicine field. The next factor is I want an opportunity to contribute to a team and I am not looking for a spot to just be handed to me. And the third thing is I am looking for an atmosphere that feels like a big family at that school."