Former Griffin High football great Bobby Rainey took time four days ago to talk about his All-America season at Western Kentucky University and what the future might hold in store.
The 5-foot-7, 196-pound junior running back led NCAA Division I in total carries (350), and finished second in yards rushing to Oregon’s LaMichael James by a mere 33 yards in addition to finishing second in total yards from scrimmage to North Texas’ Lance Dunbar by a mere 6 yards.
Dunbar ended with 1,885 yards from scrimmage, while Rainey had 1,879. James totaled 1,682 yards, while Rainey had 1,649. The difference? James’ team finished national runner-up. Rainey ran for a team that didn’t make it to a bowl.
“He had a good line blocking for him,” noted Rainey, a junior last season. “We had a few good linemen and we’ve got a few more good linemen coming in this year.”
The Hilltoppers ended spring practice with the red-and-white spring game Saturday.
Regardless of what happens this upcoming season, Rainey knows turning pro after the 2011 season is a realistic possibility.
“Oh, year,” he said. “I have agents calling and scouts telling me I have a chance to be able to play if I keep doing what I did last year and we win games this year.”
Still, Rainey said he’s always working to get better.
“I would say I’m satisfied with what I’ve done to this point, but I could always get better,” he said. “I still have the same mentality I did in high school — the outcome came out good.”
Rainey, who started all four years between 2003-2006 at Griffin, led the Bears to the state quarterfinals in 2004, semifinals in 2005 and a second round finish in 2006 when Rainey and Griffin were eliminated by Eric Berry and Creekside.
Rainey said he still works out hard physically, but the biggest gains he makes these days fall more into the category of how he approaches the game.
“Basically as far as knowledge of the defense and watching film,” he said. “We used to watch a lot of film in high school. The difference now is I have to know the concept of why a player goes in motion or when a blitz is coming.”
Rainey is very aware of his hometown’s rich heritage of producing pro football players — it’s one that includes 28 players who have played in the NFL.
“I try to learn from other people and the mistakes they’ve made,” he said. “Some didn’t follow through all the way.”
For now, though, Rainey said he’s more than content to forget about the 2012 NFL Draft and just focus on having the best year he can for Western Kentucky.
“I can’t worry about the next level right how,” he said. “We (seniors) have another season. To get to the next level, they can’t stress enough to me that I need to have the best season I can. By doing those things it’ll let me know when I’m ready to go to the next level.”