OL Will Rackley's trip to Orlando, Florida to compete in the Florida Citrus Bowl was the first since TE Adam Bergen's, who is currently playing football professionally with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL. While it's an honor to simply be invited to the 85th meeting between the East and West collegiate all-stars, Rackley by all published accounts made a very positive impression in the game. Whispers continue that his name will be called in April in the 2010 NFL draft.
I caught up with Will and asked him about his experience. See what he had to say below the flip. (more)
The run-up to the East West Shrine game included a pair of reports by Lehighsports.com, one prior to the game, and one after the game, which did a good job in putting his performance there in perspective.
The Riverdale, Georgia native solidified himself as one of the most dominant offensive linemen in Patriot League history, anchoring the offensive line for the Patriot League Champion Mountain Hawks. Rackley started all 13 games at left tackle for Lehigh in 2010 and ended his Mountain Hawk career with 40 consecutive starts on the offensive line. Rackley led an offensive line that allowed just 14 sacks in 2010, while the Mountain Hawks ranked second in the Patriot League in passing offense and scoring offense. He also paved the way for RB Jay Campbell and RB Zach Barket, who combined to rush for over 800 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging over four yards per carry.
Rackley and other participants in this year’s game arrived in Orlando on Sunday for a week of workouts, team functions, and a visit to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa.
Rackley was part of a two-man rotation at right tackle for the game. The two-time FCS All-American made his first appearance of the day with 2:36 to play and helped the East squad, coached by former NFL head coach Dan Reeves to a 19-0 first half lead. Rackley helped pave the way for game offensive MVP Delone Carter of Syracuse, plus tailbacks Evan Royster of Penn State and Graig Cooper from Miami. He also protected quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor of Virginia Tech, Pat Devlin of Delaware and Ricky Dobbs from Navy.
The contest was televised live on NFL Network with NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock as part of the announcing crew. During the telecast, Mayock noted Rackley as one of five East players who “made money” and helped their draft stock with a strong week of practice leading up to the game. Mayock considered Rackley a gifted athlete who could potentially be drafted in the third or fourth round of April’s NFL draft.
LFN: What happens, basically, in the week of preparation in the run-up to the game? Just practices, or is there more than that?
Will Rackley: I've been training at IMG in Bradenton, Florida leading up to the game. While there, it is a combination of practice, meetings, and meetings with scouts. Also there is the visit to the shriner's hospital, which a great and humbling experience.
LFN: How was it listening to Dan Reeves rather than Andy Coen for a change?
Will Rackley: Wasn't much of a change, I feel like coaching is coaching no matter who its coming from.
LFN: Which Shrine game player did you talk to the most?
Will Rackley: I'd say G David Arkin (out of Missouri State) who I already knew from my training facility.
LFN: Did you expect to get as much time in the game as you did? Did you get any advice?
Will Rackley: I did, the coaches told us before the game how we were splitting time. The advice I got was to just go out, play my game and have fun.
LFN: Who was the toughest player you faced in the game?
Will Rackley: Probably DE Justin Trattou from the university of Florida. He has great quickness.
LFN: What was the best sticker you got for your helmet? I noticed the Richmond Spider was particularly popular with the players there.
Will Rackley: I'd have to say the Miami Hurricane sticker because I was a big fan of them when I was younger.
LFN: Where were you when Pat Devlin tried to douse coach Reeves with Gatorade?
Will Rackley: I was right in front of him when we decided to throw the water around his legs instead of his upper body. [Ed. note: So they did intend to douse his legs instead of his head. You heard it here first!]
LFN: Finally, what's next up for you, now that the Shrine game is over?
Will Rackley: I'm working on school work, and preparing for the NFL combine in February. I honestly have to say the whole game was a great experience.