Skip to main content

Exclusive Q&A with..... OL Will Rackley, East West Shrine Game

For the first time since 2005, Lehigh had a player in college football's longest-running all-star game.

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, 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.


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…