Rakestraw looks to use height to help as receiver
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
August 16, 2014 12:40 AM | 2797 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A successful jumper with Sequoyah’s track team, Derrion Rakestraw is trying to continue improving as a wide receiver with the football team. Rakestraw will do so for a team that typically relies more on the run.
<BR>Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
A successful jumper with Sequoyah’s track team, Derrion Rakestraw is trying to continue improving as a wide receiver with the football team. Rakestraw will do so for a team that typically relies more on the run.
Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
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It would be safe to say that, for someone who can leap 6 feet, 2 inches into the air, or clear a distance of 22 feet, 6 inches with a running start, Derrion Rakestraw has been flying under the radar.

The Sequoyah junior has been known for the last two years as a standout member of the Chiefs’ track and field team, specializing in the long jump, high jump and triple jump.

At last year’s county meet, he placed in the top four of each of his events, while at the Region 7AAAAA meet, he won the high jump and took second in the long jump. He also went on to finish ninth in the state in the long jump.

Now, Rakestraw’s attention has turned toward football, where he will be a starting wide receiver for the second straight season.

At 6-foot-2, with an even greater arm span, Rakestraw is a natural for the receiver position. He also has speed on his side, clocking in at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

“That plays a major role, especially at wide receiver,” said Rakestraw, a member of the 2014 Cherokee Tribune Super Six. “Corners are usually a lot smaller, like 5-9 or 5-10, so 6-2 with long arms makes it a lot easier to catch balls over people.”

Sequoyah is not known for throwing the ball often, so Rakestraw doesn’t expect to have many opportunities to show what he can do, but he wants to make the most of it every time the ball comes his way. He would like to finish the season with more than 700 receiving yards.

“I feel like we have a pretty good receiving corps, and we should be good at throwing the ball around this year,” Rakestraw said.

Who it is that will be throwing the passes for Sequoyah is still a bit of a question. Three-year starter Lex Lauletta graduated in May, opening the position for competition.

Currently, junior Austin Tracy and freshman Cody Collins are the front-runners. Rakestraw said he has worked with both to develop chemistry.

Tracy and Rakestraw have played together since they were in middle school, so that connection came naturally. Rakestraw had to work a bit more with Collins.

“I’ve known Austin Tracy my whole life,” Rakestraw said, “but, at practice every day, we will stay until we get our timing done and everything. At this point, I have a pretty good relationship with both quarterbacks, so I don’t think it will be too much of a problem at all.”

Rakestraw also plays cornerback, where he says he has to battle for the ball a bit more because the opposing receivers are usually tall. His preference, however, is to be on offense.

“Corner is fun, too, but I like wide receiver a lot more,” Rakestraw said. “I’ll probably get more time on the defensive side, just because we doesn’t pass all that much. When the pass plays are coming on the offensive side, that’s probably when I will be doing in more.”

Rakestraw uses many of the skills he learned on the track when it comes to playing football. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he is flexible.

“Mostly, I do the jump events, and I feel like, as a wide receiver and corner, I can jump up to make catches and everything,” Rakestraw said. “I feel like that helps a lot, with being explosive and everything.”

So far, Rakestraw hasn’t received any scholarship offers for football, though he has gotten interest from Vanderbilt, Duke, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State and South Florida.

“I was extremely grateful that I could be a starter as a sophomore,” Rakestraw said. “I’m just excited to see what it becomes this year.”
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