It's been called âThe World's Toughest Job Interview.â For six days at the NFL Combine (Feb. 24-March 2), college football's best will be measured, interviewed, tested, watched and analyzed by countless NFL coaches, general managers and scouts conducting all of their due diligence before the NFL Draft. To prepare, nearly two dozen prospects have traveled to IMG Academy for six-plus weeks of Physical, Mental, Communication, Nutrition, Vision and psychological training with Athletic & Personal Development program specialists and on-field training with some of the game's top football coaches.
A freshman had not started on the offensive line at Lehigh University for 20 years...until William Rackley showed up. Rackley was thrust into the starting role in his first year and has not looked back since, collecting many honors along the way. The 6-4, 315 pound Rackley has been selected as a top five center/guard by the NFL Network's Mike Mayock for the upcoming 2011 NFL draft. William took a break from the weight room (where he has previously benched 440 pounds) to talk about remaining focused, recovering fumbles, and making sacrifices.
William Rackley on...
â¦his training at IMG Academy: I heard about IMG Academy through my agent and so I check them out on the internet, watched their videos and I was sold. I watched how Coach Dillman gets his guys motivated, and the big name athletes that have come out of here. It had to be something that was credible. It has been a great decision to this point. I have seen a lot of change in my body since my time here. I have increased my weight while decreasing my body fat percentage. I have gained about 4 or 5 pounds of muscle in about 3-4 weeks. My weight lifting techniques, especially on my bench press have been improved and have been learning completely new things while running. It has been a whole new learning experience.
...when he thought there may be a future in football: I knew I was going to be a special player after my freshman year. Finding out that a freshman hadn't started in over 20 years was really eye opening to me. My junior year I had a pretty good season and started getting contacted by some scouts for the first time. That's when I knew that I was on the NFL radar and had a chance which has just motivated me even more.
...overcoming adversity: I played as a freshman when nobody really thought I should be in there. Actually, there were times I heard guys on my own team asking about having other seniors or juniors that could play in my place. Not only that but I have had to play through pain and injuries time and time again. Another tough part of the game can be when the team is on five, six game losing streaks at the end of the season and still having the ability to play with the same amount of intensity every game. It is all about keeping your focus through any situation.
...jumping on a loose ball: It can get pretty ugly in those piles, but us big guys we usually just fall on it and that's the end of it. I have recovered a few during my time at Lehigh. On a couple of occasions a receiver has caught the ball downfield and fumbled and I always wanted to try to scoop and score but our coach always made us fall on top of it.
...balancing football and school: I know that I have to take the time out of my day to get my school work done or I will never get to it. I'm a product design major and my last semester I had a 3.4 GPA which was a good semester considering how hectic that time of the year was for me in particular. I had to deal with football and academics, of course, but there were also the issues of choosing an agent and planning my future, so maintaining my focus was important.
...the notion of being at a disadvantage coming from an FCS school: Football is football and if you can play the game then you can play the game. If there was any doubt in my mind about not being able to compete with D-I athletes I eliminated it playing in the East/West All star Game. I think that I played well against some of the best guys in the country. I held my own, I beat some of them, I can definitely go out there and compete . I don't think it matters what school you come from.
...biggest sacrifice during training: The biggest thing I miss is my friends from home and college. They understand what I am down here trying to do so we're always exchanging texts and they are supporting me.
...making an immediate impact at the next level:I would like to go into my first year and start somewhere on the field. Whether that means special teams, offensive line, anywhere I can make an impact. When it is all said and done, the overall goal is to be considered as one of the best to play the game. I don't care if that means Hall of Fame or not. I just want to be in the conversation for being one of the best.