When offensive guard Will Rackley was entering the NFL draft four years ago, he auditioned for the Ravens during a private workout on the Lehigh campus.
Now, the former Jacksonville Jaguars starter and 2011 third-round draft pick has joined the Ravens after signing a contract Monday.
“It’s awesome being a Raven,” Rackley, 24, said in a telephone interview. “I love the way they work, the history of the team.”
Rackley started 25 of the 26 games played for the Jaguars, but injuries and a coaching change affected his career in Jacksonville. He dealt with concussions last season that eventually forced him to go on injured reserve after 11 games. He missed the entire 2012 season with a broken ankle.
“My health, I feel great now,” Rackley said. “I feel 100 percent. Everything’s cleared up with the concussion. I’m good.”
Rackley regards this opportunity as a fresh start for him after being cut by the Jaguars last week.
Rackley could potentially fit in at left guard, depending on how things unfold with Kelechi Osemele, who’s currently slated to start at left guard after returning from a November back surgery.
The Ravens could decide to shift Osemele back to his old right tackle position if Rick Wagner fails to win that starting job.
“You can always count on something changing and I’m always trying to look for something good," Rackley said. "This could be a great fit for me. I think they’re looking mostly at me playing guard now, whatever I can do to help the team.”
An Army brat born in Athens, Greece, Rackley played high school football in Riverdale, Ga., as a teammate of Buffalo Bills starting offensive tackle Cordy Glenn. He played in a wing-T offense where he lined up in a four-point stance and was recruited by Lafayette, Colgate and lightly by Georgia Tech before choosing Lehigh. He gained roughly 50 pounds since high school, when he was just 6-2, 260, and emerged as a Football Championship Subdivision All-American and All-Patriot League blocker who started 40 consecutive games.
He played left tackle for his final three seasons after moving from right guard.
Since arriving in Baltimore over the weekend and signing his contract Sunday, Rackley has been encouraged by his talks with offensive line coach Juan Castillo.
“I’ve been able to sit down with him and Juan Castillo is a great guy,” said Rackley, who immediately joined the Ravens’ offseason workout program and will practice for the first time with the Ravens next week during their initial organized team activity. “I think it will be pretty cool. With Juan Castillo as my coach and the way he breaks things down, I think I will grow a lot as a player and bring some consistency and add some value to the team.”
By signing with the Ravens, Rackley reunites with his friend and former Jaguars teammate Eugene Monroe. Rackley started next to Monroe for two seasons in Jacksonville before Monroe was traded to the Ravens last October. Monroe was hanging out and joking with Rackley during his interview Tuesday.
“It’s awesome to be on the same team with Eugene again,” Rackley said. “There’s already chemistry there.”