ESPN.com rankings: No. 296 in ESPN 300, No. 13 inside linebacker, No. 138 in Southeast region, No. 13 in Florida
Picked Georgia over: Arizona, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Penn State, N.C. State and others.
State of the position: The Bulldogs are likely losing three players who have started at inside linebacker this past season. Christian Robinson and Michael Gilliard are graduating. Alec Ogletree is expected to leave early for the NFL. That leaves sophomore Amarlo Herrera as the only returning player with a significant amount of experience. Herrera, who is fourth on the team in tackles, will be one of the inside starters next season. The other spot is up for grabs. Redshirt sophomore Brandon Burrows has only played in three games since arriving at Georgia because of multiple injuries. Sophomore Ramik Wilson played in 10 games this year but has yet to start a game.
Pros: “Rankin reads his keys soundly and is rarely caught out of position with false steps. He consistently beats blockers to the point of attack. He has impressive short-area speed and the quickness needed to make stops inside-out through traffic. He clears trash well, pursuing laterally with good agility and the ability to sidestep cutoff blockers. He makes plays outside the hashes as well with impressive range and effort. Rankin can run and close at a top-end level. He is a disruptive blitzer who can pressure and create havoc, and he runs through as a tackler with great force.” -- ESPN scouting report
Cons: “While he can hit showing good initial pop and run-through ability, he will need to improve lower-body power and take-on strength if he is going to develop on the inside. He can get engulfed at times at the second level and may lack the base to stalemate consistently at the point of attack early on in college.” -- ESPN scouting report
Similar to/potential role: Christian Robinson. Rankin is a smart player like Robinson and can make those quick reads that allow him to be in position to make plays. There is a reason he racked up 575 tackles in his high school career.
Expected impact: 2013. It would be easier to assume a redshirt year and expect Rankin to make a name for himself after learning defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s system. But Rankin is the son of a coach. He spent the fall attending a local community college, completing a dual enrollment that will give him college credits to use when he arrives at Georgia. Speaking of which, Rankin will arrive Friday and practice with the team for the remainder of its time in Athens before the Bulldogs leave for the Capital One Bowl. Being an early enrollee will likely put him right in the thick of the battle for the starting spot.