Rankins Goes Marching In

The New Orleans Saints selected former UofL defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins 12th in the first round of the National Football League draft last month. Last weekend, Rankins arrived in the Big Easy for the Saints’ rookie minicamp. He signed a four-year $12.8 million contract with a $7.5 million signing bonus. Garland Gillen with WVUE-TV in New Orleans sat down with the Georgia native.

Who called you before the pick?
Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis. I just remember we’re sitting around the house, New Orleans is up and I’ve got my phone on the counter. I was just waiting on a call, something told me that maybe New Orleans might make that call. I put my phone on the counter, I saw it vibrate, 504, I knew who it was, picked up and the rest is history.

Were there screams in the house?
It was crazy. As soon as I picked up the phone, my mom comes running over, and I’m trying to keep her quiet for as long as I can to continue talking. As soon as I hung up the phone, the house went crazy. Everybody was screaming, jumping all over me. It’s something I’ll always remember.

TVT_4660Your sophomore year you had two interceptions. How does an interior defensive lineman have two interceptions?
Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time. Especially on my first one when I picked off a shovel pass, just kind of in the right place at the right time. I mean it shows some of the athleticism that I’ve always prided myself on.

One summer or spring in high school did you play running back?
I played running back most of my freshman year, and then obviously kept growing, kept getting bigger. They were like, maybe you can play a little defense for us, and it turns out it worked out for the best.

Your first sack came in the Sugar Bowl in 2013 against Florida. Do you remember much about that play?
Never forget the first one. I remember the play call. I remember everything. I remember how it all played out. I’ve had numerous sacks in my career, but that’s the one I’ll never forget.

It happened in the Superdome. Is that something that came to mind at all when they picked you?
That’s just kind of surreal that that’s where I’ll be playing my NFL career. Hopefully I can get many more in that stadium.

You created a Twitter account after getting drafted. How did you manage to stay away from social media?
I’ve always been a guy who has stayed to himself. Always been a laid back, relaxed kind of guy. Never was trying to be seen all the time. It kind of came natural. It was one of those things where I never really tried to stay off of it – it’s just kind of who I was.

Are you a quiet leader?
If you ask guys, I don’t say a lot, but when I say something, everybody listens. I’m that guy. That’s just my personality. I’m going to be quiet, but I’m going to come to work every day and I look forward to carrying that on in the NFL.

Have you already thrown out all your Falcons gear?
I never really had too much Falcons gear. I was a huge Michael Vick fan growing up, so I had all his jerseys, all his shoes. Can’t fit in them anymore, so it doesn’t really matter. The only black and red stuff I have now is Louisville stuff.

You played inside and outside in college. The Saints have said they anticipate using you inside, does that appeal to you?
I’ve played it all. Coach [Todd] Grantham did a great job of utilizing my athleticism all up and down the line. Going into that organization, I’m just going to try to learn whatever they need me to learn and to attack the offense wherever they need me to line up. VT