After battling injuries in each of the past two seasons, Blake Rackley thought his opportunity to play college football had likely slipped away.
But showing the same tenacity he often displayed during his Polk County football career, Rackley asked head coach Bruce Ollis for his help in exploring whether any chance remained to continue his career.
They found an avenue to fulfilling that dream at Brevard College.
Rackley will join the Tornadoes this fall, following teammate Mitchell Yoder to the nearby Division III program. Polk County celebrated Rackley’s decision during a ceremony Monday morning in the school auditorium.
“I knew I somehow wanted to keep playing because I enjoy the game so much and I didn’t want to stop,” Rackley said. “I approached Coach Ollis and he helped open a door for me. It’s a dream realized to continue to play football.”
Rackley played on the offensive line throughout his Wolverine career, most often as a center. Though injuries, including a concussion last season,
kept Rackley off the field, they did not slow his contribution to Polk County’s program. Ollis expects the same to be true at Brevard.
“Blake is one of the most dedicated, hardest-working kids I’ve ever been around,” Ollis said. “I’ve told Blake that, like me and a lot of others, he’s going to go there and be on the scout team for a while. He’ll have to earn his keep.
“But once they find out about his work ethic and his desire to get onto the field, I think he’ll get some snaps.”
Rackley’s parents, Alex and Ginger Rackley, have been as much a part of Polk County’s program as their son, helping with efforts such as Polk County’s 12th Man. Ollis said Brevard’s program will enjoy that as well.
“When you talk about Blake going to Brevard, they’re getting a football family, and that’s important,” Ollis said. “They’ll be all in, as far as that goes.
“Brevard is just an hour down the road, close to Polk County, and I think that will make it easier for Blake in terms of making the transition from high school to college.”
Ollis said Rackley could well be a coach one day, and the Wolverine senior admitted he’s thought about that, citing the influences of Ollis and Polk County assistant coaches Jamie Thompson and Zach Searcy. Rackley plans to study sports management or exercise science.
He’s ready to get started on all fronts.
“I didn’t get to play a whole lot last season due to the concussion,” Rackley said. “So I’m very appreciative and very thankful. I’m ready for the next step.”
“Blake has been a Wolverine through and through,” Ollis said. “Starting in August, he’ll be a Tornado through and through.”