By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
When Chad Huff, the head coach of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, first saw Martinas Rankin, he weighed closer to 230 pounds rather than the 300 he does now.
Huff recalls how his 6-foot-4 tackle out of Mendenhall wasn’t highly recruited and coming off knee surgery the spring before his junior year.
“To be honest, he was not a kid who was on anybody’s radar,” Huff said. “I went back through recruiting there, to see the quarterback, Khadarel Hodge, and I see Martinas about three months later and he had put on about 20 pounds. I told him to keep lifting, keep getting bigger and that we would watch him his senior year. We kept recruiting the quarterback and kept going through Mendenhall and every time I would see Martinas.”
The relationship eventually led to Rankin signing with Gulf Coast and then starting the past two years at left tackle. This past fall, Rankin was named to the MACJC All-State team. His performance on the field also garnered a bunch of different offers from the likes of Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
“Martinas Rankin is a tremendous, tremendous young man. High character. Very smart. Those are things that he has to go along with him being 6-4, 300,” Huff said. “He’s a very coachable kid. He’s a team player. He’s a self starter and he’s tremendous in the class room. He’s got all the things you are looking for. He’s athletic. He runs very well. He is a guy that can mix it up in the run game and he does a tremendous job in pass protection as well with his long arms and the ability to get out with his feet on his base to get out and move around with those defensive linemen.”
Rankin, who was on the Ole Miss sideline as an official visitor before the Egg Bowl, is closing in a decision on where he will continue to play football. He just visited Starkville, and he has reportedly narrowed his choices to the Rebels, Bulldogs and Oklahoma.
Huff said that Rankin really benefited from playing in junior college in the sense that he was able to develop and show his untapped potential.
“If it wasn’t for junior college, I don’t know what he would be doing,” said Huff, who added the coaches have told him they love his size. “He passes the eyeball test, but then you throw on the film and it speaks for itself. He’s just got really good feet, good bend in the hips and long arms. He does a really good job on pass protection.”
Junior college players can begin signing with four-year schools as early as Wednesday morning. Rankin could be in school, wherever he picks, in January to go through spring drills.