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Ennis Rakestraw Jr. is a big name left to know in the 2020 recruiting cycle.

Ennis Rakestraw Jr: The ultimate ‘why not me?’ feel good recruiting story of 2020

Ennis Rakestraw Jr. is one of the hottest recruits in the country right now.

He’s going to sort through offers from Alabama, Georgia and Missouri this month and take his officials leading up to the traditional signing day in February.

That’s one way to frame up his recruiting decision. It would be right. Especially in real time.

But that’s the wrong way to begin any narrative on Mr. Rakestraw. He even knows that. Rakestraw aspires to be a storyteller with his future college major.

The 3-star prospect out of Texas wants to study journalism and eventually be the analyst we all see before and after every big game in a nice pinstripe + tie + shirt + pocket square color combo.

Yet he might never have a better story to tell than his own.

“I’m a humble guy,” he said. “That’s just how I am. But I do feel like I’m the hottest [prospect] left on the list right now.”

Let’s just throw all these snippets of his grind and climb on the table. Every reader can compare and contrast which elements they feel stand out the most in his life.

  • Ranks as the nation’s No. 165 cornerback and the No. 1972 overall prospect for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. 
  • Holds some very late offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Miami, Michigan State and South Carolina, among others. 
  • Started out his senior season with zero major FBS offers
  • Tried to attend an Under Armour regional camp before his senior season with other prospects from a Duncanville (Duncanville, Tex.) team which is flush with elite prospects. He was denied entry into that camp. The thinking there was that he wasn’t good enough. Apparently. 
  • Now set to take four late official visits in three weeks. He’s got Alabama, Missouri and Georgia pencilled in for three of those. The Bulldogs hold the last official visit slot set for Jan. 31.
  • Was named the Dallas Metro Defensive Player of the Year by the Dallas Morning News this season for his senior breakthrough campaign.
  • “Loyalty” matters. That’s why the Mizzou offer is his pinned tweet. They were the first of the bigger fish to offer himin October. That’s why he knows those Tigers will get an official no matter if Clemson, Ohio State and LSU were all to offer. “Missouri was my first big school,” he said. “They showed me love before anyone else. So I have to visit them, too.”

Quite the story, huh? But the real Rakestraw Intel is just walking up to the line here.

“My ‘why’ for playing this game is as a young kid I fell in love with the game,” he said. “Everyone told me that I can go places with this. I dreamed about it. Everybody dreamed about it. But my step daddy instilled in a young age for me ‘why not you?’ so every time I step on the field I think about it. Why not me? Why can’t I get this? Why can’t I get that? I play with a chip on my shoulder with all of this.”

Ennis Rakestraw Jr.: His ascent will inspire any dreamer

It seems there are two clear way points to extend this story. The first would be the humbling experience at that Under Armour regional.

“Coach [Reginald] Samples called me and said that they said I was too small to be let into the camp,” Rakestraw told the Dallas Morning News. “I got in the car, I cried, and I made sure that any All-American, anybody that stepped in front of me, I was going to make them pay.”

The other edge of that story arc is a recent offer to play for Alabama. It seems simplistic to note that any prospect offered by the Tide for Nick Saban’s secondary should no longer be seen as the nation’s No. 165 cornerback in any year.

That would be like expecting someone to find 165 better things to do in Athens or Tuscaloosa on a gameday instead of hanging around campus.

Rakestraw’s ascent is seen as blessings earned. Not given.

Consider the notion that there are actually two top 300 prospects at Duncanville in the  2020 class. There are two more top 200 prospects in the 2021 class. Recruiters know his school well. They have stopped by, seen the films and evaluated those guys.

But they all passed on Rakestraw.

“I watched every college coach in the nation come through my school,” he said. “All my coaches were all telling them to watch me and they overlooked me. They were like ‘he’s too small’ so I took all of that.”

His coaches told him to not worry about all of that. It was going to come.

“I did that,” he said. “I ran track. I built myself up. I started building my confidence level up. I just went out and performed well.”

He just put out so much great tape they could no longer ignore him.

Ennis Rakestraw Jr: Making the All-Americans pay

Rakestraw, simply put, was at his best when his best was required in 2019. Take a look at these head-to-head matchups:

  • 5-star WR Rakim Jarrett (Maryland signee) vs. Rakestraw: 5 catches, 36 yards
  • 4-star junior WR Quaydarius Davis (Nation’s No. 77 prospect) vs Rakestraw: 2 yards receiving
  • Future 5-star WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State signee) vs. Rakestraw: 5 catches, 37 yards

“What really got the ball rolling was when I had to go against 5-star receiver Rakim Jarrett,” Rakestraw said. “That’s a 5-star receiver. I locked him down. No touchdowns.”

Smith-Njigba went off for his Rockwall team in his varsity career. He had 2,161 of his 5,403 career receiving yards this season. That figures includes a staggering 109 receptions and 34 receiving scores in 2019. (Note: Those are verified totals. His stats are really that prolific.)

Let’s restate that night against Rakestraw: 5 catches. 37 yards. It meant he was 117 yards below his per-game average as a senior. Those 7.4 yards per catch he put up on Rakestraw where 12.4 yards per reception under his average for 2019.

While that game was going on, those two had a back-and-forth.

“Jaxon and I was talking in the game and he was like ‘you are the best corner that I have done seen’ and I’ve watched your film,” Rakestraw said. “I was like I am trying to play my game. I said I was trying to get an Ohio State offer.”

“Yeah, you should,” Smith-Njigba replied. “After what I have just seen and how you are playing.”

Everyone saw what he could do this year. Especially those coaches who took a hard pass and offered his other talented teammates.

“Everybody saw what I could do this year and just fell in love with it,” Rakestraw Jr. said.

Ennis Rakestraw Jr-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Ennis Rakestraw Jr. says that he now has four official visits to take in three weeks once the dead period lifts on Jan. 17. (Ennis Rakestraw Jr./Special to DawgNation)

Ennis Rakestraw Jr. breaks down his college decision

He has quick feet and great speed. He’s a physical corner with very long arms. The Duncanville High senior says that he is a laser 4.4 in the 40.

“When you come watch me practice or play I am extremely confident,” he said. “I dance around and have fun. It is just a great feeling when I am on the field.”

He realizes how far his college potential has soared over the last four months.

“It is a great feeling,” he said. “It is really unmeasurable here for me because God has really blessed me. There’s nothing I can say. I can only give it to him. He knew how hard I wanted it. How bad I wanted it and I never gave up. So he rewarded me for never giving up.”

When the college coaches saw his 2019 season, he simply jumped off the screen. Now he has options aplenty. Miami and Michigan State were under heavy consideration for officials.

“I am fixing to have to do some reconsidering,” he said earlier this week. “But I’m keeping Missouri. That’s who I know I am keeping for sure but the other schools I don’t know yet. I want to go to them, too. But if Nick Saban asks me to come down there I can’t tell a legendary coach no.”

The Bulldogs had secured their official visit slot earlier in the week. Missouri is going to be on Jan. 24.

“Georgia is on the 31st,” he said. “So that’s two visits right there.”

He plans to sign on Feb. 5. How were the Bulldogs able to secure an official visit slot?

“Just talking to their coach,” he said of defensive backs coach Charlton Warren. “He was telling me how they are trying to win a national title. I have the same goals for when I get to college. Just from talking to him, he seems like a great dude and a great coach. He can get me to the next level.”

Everyone is recruiting him about as hard as everyone else right now. Texas finally came with an offer on Friday night.

He knows he can get better by snatching more interceptions. He only had one pick as a senior, but still picked up that Dallas Metro Defensive Player of the Year honor. That is usually reserved for players who come up with big statistical seasons and a lot of interceptions, but his reputation for being a physical man-to-man cornerback was enough there.

“When they are throwing slant routes you have to decide whether to break it up or go for a pick and risk him going 99 yards for a touchdown,” Rakestraw said. “Sometimes you have got to gamble but I’d rather keep a goose egg on the board instead of trying to be selfish and risk them scoring a touchdown.”

Alabama was his dream school. He remembers watching the Tide growing up and how big, fast and physical those defensive players were. He remembers that to this day.

He also knows that Georgia wKirby Smart as the shot caller for a lot of those defenses, too. That helps Georgia here, too.

“Yes, sir,” he said. “It is making my decision a lot harder. It is extremely stressful.”

He likes that professional approach from the Georgia staff. He is looking for a “home away from home” with his college choice.

“When I am in high school my coaches coached me like I was a college player to go to the next level,” he said. “When I get to college, I don’t want my college coaches to coach me like a college player. I want them to coach me like I am a draft pick that can go to the league.”

Rakestraw has had to show remarkable perseverance to get to this point. With that, he thanks his stepfather. Walter Quigley has been a source of strength for him.

“He came in my life at the age of three when my dad decided he didn’t want to take on his responsibilities and he took me in as his own,” Rakestraw said. “He’s the one who signed me up for football. But then as a kid, he was never into glitz and glamour like visors and shields and stuff. I will never forget the time when I had all the cleanest accessories and I didn’t do well in the game. He was like ‘I am tired of you being a prima donna you can’t start wearing all of this until you do something in the game’ so now that’s why I don’t really wear much stuff in the game. I have to prove myself first.”

He didn’t star wearing his arm sleeves until he started doing well during this season.

Rakestraw had to earn his gear then, too. Just like all those big offers he will now decide between over the next 24 days.

 

 

 

 

 

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