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Rankin accepts offer from Washington State

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Brandon Rankin is getting as much attention for his football skills in the West as he did in the Southeast.

Rankin, the conference defensive player of the year his senior year at West Brunswick High School, has played the last two years at Butte Junior College in California, where he excelled. On Feb. 4 he signed a letter of intent to finish his college football career at Washington State University.

“Brandon is a great kid,” said Butte coach Jeff Jordan, “and we are very happy for him and what he has accomplished during his time at Butte and also for what he will accomplish in his future.

“We have had players from our college in the past attend Washington State and had very successful careers there. Even though we will miss him next year, we wish him nothing but the very best.”

Last year Rankin had 62 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss and 24 sacks in helping Butte win a national championship. He was voted MVP following Butte’s 17-9 victory over Mount San Antonio in the California Community College Athletic Association championship game. (The game featured the top-two ranked junior college teams, and JCGridiron.com proclaimed the winner the national champion.)

Rankin is the Northern California Conference Defensive Player of the Year, the California Junior College Defensive Player of the Year and the National Junior College Defensive Player of the Year.

He is on the 2008 All-America First Team and All-California First Team. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 7 defensive end prospect in junior college.

“In the (Butte) game tape I have,” said West coach Jimmy Fletcher, “he has six sacks.”

Rankin, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive lineman, set Butte team records for sacks in a game (6.5) and in a season (27) in helping lead the Roadrunners to an undefeated season (12-0).

“In the national championship game,” Fletcher said, “he had three sacks, like six tackles and a blocked field goal. USC was there and they wanted him.

“He had lots of offers. But academically, he felt Washington State was the best fit for him. In the Pac-10, Washington State has the second highest graduation rate, behind Stanford.”

“Brandon is a very gifted football player that we are still working on with his course work,” Washington State coach Paul Wulff said, “and it may be another year before he comes in. He is a special talent, a very good kid. We want nothing but the best for him, and once we get him here, he will really flourish by being in a steady environment.”

Washington State is in Pullman, about 650 miles from Butte Junior College.

“They had been recruiting him forever,” Fletcher said. “He visited and felt really comfortable up there.”

Rankin will redshirt his first year at Washington State but will have two years of eligibility, Fletcher said.

What makes Rankin exceptional is his quickness off the line of scrimmage.

“His first 5 yards he has great explosion,” Fletcher said.

Washington State needs immediate help. In 2008 it finished 2-11 in Wulff’s first season as the Cougars’ coach. California beat the Cougars 66-3. Oregon won 63-14. Oregon State won 66-13. The following week USC beat the Cougars 69-0. “Washington State pretty much told him,” Fletcher said, “ ‘Look, if you get your grades right, the situation we’re in right now, you can come in here and you can start.

“They’re saying he is going to have some shots at the NFL.”

MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at sports@brunswickbeacon.com.