Rankin’s Rise

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) – A lot has changed for Martinas Rankin in the last five years.

“Out of high school, I really didn’t have many offers at all,” he said. “I think after my last game I weighed in at around 235 pounds.”

Considering the average weight of the top ten tackle prospects in his class was 288 pounds, Rankin was only able to field offers from junior colleges. The Mendenhall alum picked Mississippi Gulf Coast, but before he left home, he hired a personal trainer.

“The trainer’s name is Chaucer Funchess out of Magee. And he was like, between breakfast and lunch you need to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Rankin said. “And anytime you can, drink chocolate milk. By the time I got to Mississippi Gulf Coast, I was around 270 pounds.

From there, Rankin excelled, earning a starting spot in his first game as a freshman. However, he didn’t tell his parents he won the job.

“He just told us to be there early,” his father, Orlando, said. “And we got there early and we seen him on the jumbotron and it overwhelmed us. However, after that process of that freshman year at Gulf Coast, it seemed like things took off.”

And just like that, the guy no one had heard of was all of a sudden being recruited by seemingly everyone.

“Constantly getting phone calls,” Rankin’s MGCCC offensive line coach Les George said. “You’ve got Bob Stoops in your living room from Oklahoma trying to get you to come out there.”

George was Rankin’s offensive line coach during his second year at MGCCC. The attention given to his player came as no surprise.

“Off the field, he’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet,” George said. “After that ball’s snapped and you’re wearing an opposite color jersey, it’s on, it don’t matter.”

After his second season at MGCCC, Rankin was the top-ranked JUCO offensive tackle in the country. From a wealth of suitors, Rankin chose to go to Mississippi State.

“It was just something I dreamed of. It really still, to this day, it hasn’t hit me I play Division 1 football coming from where I come from in Mendenhall, Mississippi,” Rankin said.

Rankin was redshirted his first year in Starkville. In his second season, he gave up the second-fewest sacks in the SEC.

This season, he was named First Team All-SEC and is considered by many to be one of the top tackle prospects in this year’s draft class.

“It still hasn’t registered with me,” his mother, Cassandra, said. “And when people do mention it to me about him going to the NFL, i kinda just stay humble and say, we’ll just let it play out.”

His son’s success still hasn’t registered with his father, either.

“It’s like it’s not real,” Orlando said. “We often talk a lot as husband and wife and we still haven’t got grasp of this, you know what i mean?”

Martinas, however, says he’s got a grasp on how this story continues.

“I’ve worked to get to this point and I have to keep working,” he said. “Because that’s the only way I can get to that goal and get to that level and stay at that level.”

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