ILB Ryne Rankin on fast track to UGA

ATHENS, Ga. -- When Ryne Rankin (Orlando, Fla./East River) isn’t hunting hogs with a knife or raising prize cows for school, he can often be found recruiting for the Georgia. The ESPN 300 four-star inside linebacker committed to the Bulldogs in April and has since been aching to get to campus. At Georgia’s recent Dawg Night, he took a break from collecting alligator eggs to visit the campus that he calls “my new home.”

“I think I will be there in less than six months,” Rankin said. “It is exciting. I knocked out all of my school work. Actually, I only need half a credit to graduate high school. Next year I will do dual-enrollment, which means I won’t even go to high school -- I will go to the local community college. I’ll knock out some college courses there and come play football at the high school. Then when I leave early I will have college credits.”

This was the plan all along for Rankin, whose 4.0 GPA shows he can tackle the books, too.

“I planned that since eighth grade,” Rankin said. “They gave us some classes that would count against your high school.”

At last count, Georgia could have as many as 11 mid-year enrollees from the 2013 class. With the Bulldogs' shallow roster numbers, Georgia's coaches were working at Dawg Night to fill the vacancies.

“There was such a great tempo,” Rankin said. “I was surprised. I have never been around a program that had an upbeat tempo like that. Seeing Mark Richt get after the players and get them going -- he wasn’t yelling but he had a little tone in his voice: ‘C’mon, let’s get it going.’ ”

Rankin didn’t participate in the Dawg Night competition, rather he observed and spent time getting to know his future teammates.

“I met Brandon Kublanow (Marietta, Ga./Walton), Nick Glass (Atlanta/ St. Pius X), Tramel Terry (Goose Creek, S.C./Goose Creek) and guys like that,” Rankin said. “I had already met Reggie Carter (Snellville, Ga./South Gwinnett) and we hung out at the last spring game so it was exciting to hang out with him.”

He also used his self-described “country boy swag” to try and sway some prospects in attendance.

“I heard the Georgia running back is probably leaning towards the Dawgs,” Rankin said of Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga./Norcross).

Rankin welcomed a commitment from fellow inside linebacker Tim Kimbrough (Indianapolis/Warren Central) at the end of Dawg Night.

“He makes our linebacking corps that much stronger. We have him, Reggie Carter and Johnny O’Neal (Dublin, Ga./West Laurens). Another guy gives us a stronger class. I got to watch Kimbrough out there. I saw toughness and heart. I saw good footwork and stuff like that.”

The 6-foot-1, 230 pound linebacker knows good form when he sees it. Rankin is a tackling machine for East River.

“I led the state of Florida with 189 tackles last year,” Rankin said. “Some people said that was the most in the nation but I don’t know about that. I had seven sacks but only one interception.”

Averaging almost 20 tackles a game is not surprising, considering how Rankin spends his spare time. Take for example the alligator eggs.

“I had to go out on an airboat to collect alligator eggs for the state,” Rankin said. “A lot of people don’t know this but a lot of the baby alligators that hatch in the wild get eaten by older, mature alligators so the babies won’t threaten their dominance one day. So to keep them alive and keep the alligator from becoming endangered, we take the eggs from the nest, go hatch them somewhere else and then release them back into the wild.”