Rainey, a redshirt sophomore running back and kick returner for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, was not ecstatic about the team’s 2-10 season in 2008. It was the Hilltoppers’ first season as a Division I-A team and Western Kentucky took its lumps on the gridiron against ranked teams such as Alabama, Virginia Tech and Ball State and good unranked teams such as Kentucky and Troy.
Despite that rough slate, Rainey felt he and the team could’ve played better.
“I had never been part of a losing season before,” Rainey said. “It was rough to watch us lose games.”
Rainey was also frustrated with his playing time in 2008. He only carried the ball on average nine times per game in 2008.
“I am very competitive and my biggest problem has always been impatience,” he said. “I love the coaching staff and the guys here, but I felt that when the ball was in my hands, I had the chance to make a play.”
It didn’t help that Rainey also suffered a slight meniscus tear in his knee during the Hilltoppers game against Florida Atlantic on Oct. 18. He had surgery soon after and missed the final four games of the season.
Rainey rushed for 259 yards on 42 carries (6.2 yards per carry) with one touchdown in eight games in 2008.
He fielded seven punts for 22 yards and also had 581 yards on kick returns (30.6 yards per return), with his longest kick return being 92 yards against Alabama.
Rainey felt his best rushing game was Sept. 27 against Kentucky, when he carried the ball nine times for 99 yards. Rainey was the lone bright spot in a game WKU lost 41-3.
“I had 256 all purpose yards in that game,” he said.
After surgery, Rainey rehabbed in WKU’s $49 million training facility, complete with a pool with an underwater treadmill. Once he came home for the Christmas holidays, it was also time to go to work.
“As soon as I got home, I went to Griffin High and started running and lifting weights. I would go to World’s Gym in Fayetteville and other gyms just about every day,” Rainey said.
Rainey has big plans for next season. He said the Hilltoppers are young, but they have heart and he’s looking forward to getting everyone on the same page.
“My plan is to push everyone so we won’t have a season like last year. Everyone, including myself, has to be held accountable for the season,” he said. “I also want us to do more things together, like run together, go out to eat together, things like that. Doing that will lead to better chemistry and that could lead to more wins.”
Rainey had over 5,000 yards rushing and 88 career touchdowns at Griffin High. His best game was a 357-yard, five-touchdown performance against Riverdale during his senior year. He was the Griffin Daily News Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006.