Rainey, a 5-foot-8 dynamo who ended his career as WKU’s all-time leading rusher with 4,542 yards, was signed this weekend as an undrafted rookie free agent by the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens not long after the 2012 NFL Draft ended Saturday night.
“It felt great to be signed by the Ravens, but to be honest I was a little ed off about the NFL Draft. Every player wants to be drafted,” said Rainey.
“But I went into it with the mindset that if I wasn’t going to be drafted in the first through fourth rounds, I’d rather become a free agent and decide where I want to go.”
Rainey did just that, even though the Washington Redskins called him during the NFL Draft. He had made up his mind that he would try to play for the Ravens, since there was a connection there.
“The Ravens run the same offense that we ran at Western Kentucky. Plus there’s a coaching connection with the Ravens — John Harbaugh,” Rainey said. “His father Jack and his brother Jim both coached at Western Kentucky, so it’s like a family. I knew I wanted to be in Baltimore or possibly San Francisco.”
Jack Harbaugh was head football coach at WKU from 1989-2002 and Jim Harbaugh, current head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, was a WKU assistant coach from 1994-2001.
“The Harbaughs called my WKU head coach Willie Taggart and then I got a call from coach John Harbaugh saying they would love to have me in Baltimore,” said Rainey. “I got the call from the Ravens about 15-20 minutes after the NFL Draft ended. It was great to get that call.”
Rainey said he leaves for Baltimore on May 10 and he’s looking forward to playing for the Ravens because of the offensive scheme.
He felt it’s much better to play for a team that ran the same offense he ran in college.
“It will be a bit easier to get all the plays down when you’re familiar with the offense,” he said. “I can learn the system, feel comfortable and then earn the respect of the veteran players.”
Two veterans he’s looking to meet at Ravens camp will be running back Ray Rice and long-time linebacker Ray Lewis.
He’s anxious to meet his position-mate Rice and learn all he can from him.
“I definitely plan to pick Ray Rice’s brain after I learn the playbook and do what I need to do. I can’t talk to anybody if I’m shown the door because I didn’t get the plays down,” Rainey said. “I’ve got to take care of me first, then I can talk to everyone else.”
The Ravens told Rainey they want him to work on the special teams unit as well as running back, so Rainey plans to practice hard on catching punts.
He hasn’t returned kicks in a while, so he said he’ll be constantly working at that phase of his game.
“I need to be crisp at catching punts,” he said. "I've got to be ready if they put me on the return team."
Griffin High head coach Steve DeVoursney said he’s proud of his former running back.
“It’s a testament to Bobby’s hard work and dedication that he’s been signed by a good organization like the Ravens. Everyone in Griffin and WKU should be very proud of him,” DeVoursney said. “He’ll definitely work hard and he’ll do what he can to make it there.”