Skip to main content

Patriot League Media Day: OL Will Rackley

If you believe sites like NFL Draft Scout, senior OL Will Rackley - Lehigh's massive tackle out of Riverdale, Georgia - could be picked in QB John Skelton territory in the NFL draft.

It is early - incredibly early - but he's projected as going in the fifth round as a guard, and he's listed as the ninth-best in the nation, behind massive talents like Villanova senior OL Ben Ijalana and Florida State senior OL Rodney Hudson.

Going into his fourth year of starting on the offensive line, the strong, massive talent has garnered plenty of recognition on countless all-America teams. Individually, he's been spectacular even if, as a unit, the offensive lines of which he's been a part have not been dominating in the Patriot League. In his senior year, Rackley - now  Lehigh's offensive team captain - will have one last opportunity to not only improve his game for the NFL scouts, but to make the entire Mountain Hawk "O" Line unit a controlling force in games. (more)


One of the more amazing, underplayed aspects of his story is that Rackley managed to accumulate all these accolades after playing hurt most of last year.

"Last year, Will played through some bumps and bruises with an ankle issue, really though the bulk of the season," coach Coen told me.  "He's worked really hard, and [this year] he's focused on playing the best he can and helping lead our team to some great things this year."

Rackley's imposing frame - and Georgia accent - makes an undeniable impact when you interview him.  All his interviews on media day - from me, Lehighsports.com, The Morning Call, and WMFZ Channel 69 - show a calm leader who won't let the spotlight get in the way of praising the team and the goals for the season.

“Everyone’s pumped up to get the season started," he said.  "The guys have been working really hard over the summer. We have an opportunity to do some really big things. We have big games against teams like Villanova and New Hampshire, plus all our league games, which will give our team the opportunity to show what we can do.”

When interviewing captains Will and senior LB Al Pierce together, it was striking how much they were both on the same page on matters of academics and team goals - almost never talking about themselves, unless cornered with a direct question.  More often than not you'd get a "I totally agree" after one captain made a point and I asked the other to answer as well.

On academics, both Will and Al agreed that the structure of the football season helped their academics rather than hurting.  "I think playing football, [the structure] makes you focus on your academics.  If you don't do that, you're not going to get your work done.  The tight schedule of football helps out a lot."

I asked Will if he takes a peek at all these preseason accolades.  "I look at it, but too I don't look much into it, especially in the preseason.  It's not as important to me as as the outcome of the season."

With new offensive coordinator Dave Cecchini coming on board, will there be much of a difference from last year to this year?

"The biggest difference is that we're going to be in a huddle much more this year. I like that because you can get in the huddle and regroup and refocus," Will told Keith Groller of the Morning Call.

For team goals for the year, Rackley was crystal-clear.  "People can expect us to build on what we did last year and do it with more efficiency," Rackley told Keith Groller of the Morning Call.

"A big problem we had last year was finishing games," Will told Troy Hein of WFMZ Channel 69.  "I think our last two games [last year, vs. Fordham and Lafayette], we finished real strong.  We're taking that into this season: winning every game, finishing every game strong."

Rackley reiterated to me that their team goals include all of the above, and winning the Patriot League championship.  "For me and the team, we want to be recognized as one of the best, if not the best, in our league," he told me.

As for his own personal goals for the season, Will isn't so much focusing on individual skills, but mindset.

"I want to improve on the nastiness aspect this year," he told Matt Markus of Lehighsports.com.  "As a lineman, I'm going to go out there and just maul guys this year."

This could maybe lead to my first feeble attempt at a nickname.  How about senior OL William "Big Bear" Rackley?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Lehigh's Battles With The Late Tubby Raymond

(Photo Credits: Delaware Online)

When I heard the news Tubby Raymond, legendary Delaware head football coach, died last week at the age of 92, two immediate memories came rushing back to me.

One occurred on October 16th, 1999, when Tubby had made a complaint to the local paper or radio in the run-up to Kevin Higgins' Mountain Hawks beating his Blue Hens on Delaware's homecoming, 42-35.

I have no idea if the quote even actually happened, but my recollection is that Tubby said that Lehigh had "St. Bartholomew's" on their schedule, and hadn't played anybody.  It was a verbal jab that many Delaware fans took with them to the stands to heckle the Mountain Hawk fans that made the short trip to Newark.

Up until that point, I had watched a bunch of Lehigh football games over the years.  I experienced their rise in the 1990s.  I enjoyed wins, and championships, and playoff victories.

But never had I felt a win so viscerally vindicating than the one over Tubby Raymond&…

Lehigh Wrestling Gets Superstar Treatment at PPL Center. Lehigh Football Needs The Same At Murray Goodman.

"We knew it would be nice," Lehigh wrestling head coach Pat Santoro said. "But it was even better than we expected."

Pat was talking about the reception his Lehigh wrestling squad experienced at Allentown's PPL Center this weekend, when a sellout crowd over nearly 10,000 people came to watch No. 1 Penn State grapple with No. 5 Lehigh in a collegiate wrestling event.

It was, by all accounts, something special to behold. 

"I thought it was really cool and an exciting place to wrestle," said Penn State wrestler Nick Nevills. "These fans were really into it, a rowdy bunch. It's a lot more fun as an athlete to wrestle in an environment like this. I'd say it was one of the most exciting times I have had in my career."

The sense of spectacle at the PPL center, though, puts a spotlight on what more can be done at Lehigh itself to make their athletic contests into spectacles.  It requires money to be spent and energy to be expended.  But the…

Troy Pelletier Hasn't Stopped Outworking His Rivals On His Journey To Professional Football

Many Patriot League football fans remember the 153rd meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette, one that ended happily for the Mountain Hawks.

They might remember the MVP performance of QB Brad Mayes, or perhaps the halftime speech by OL Zach Duffy that seemed to spur the Mountain Hawks to victory.

Or perhaps they might remember the spectacular single play of Mayes rolling right and finding WR Gatlin Casey in the end zone to give the Mountain Hawks a lead they didn't relinquish.  It was an incredible play by Mayes, who returns this upcoming year for his senior season, and Casey, who, having exhausted his eligibility at Lehigh, will be playing one more year at Middle Tennessee State.

As great as those individual moments are, though, they are not my biggest takeaway of that game.

Too many Lehigh people forget that Lehigh was down 31-21 at half, and that victory was no sure thing.  And they sometimes forget that so much of that victory came from the grinding of WR Troy Pelletier, deliver…