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Countdown to Virginia Football: #38 Kelvin Rainey

SS Kelvin Rainey is a run-support safety who wants to be aggressive and make big hits. Playing next to Quin Blanding, he has the freedom to do so.

Virginia Media Relations

Position: SS
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 195
Year: RS Senior
Hometown: Houston, TX
Twitter: @kelvinrainey

Coming out of HS as a 6’0” 170 pound safety, Rainey was simply too small to be the type of player he wanted to be. He’s an aggressive safety who plays downhill and wants to lay the wood on running backs. That’s tough to do when the RBs outweigh you by 30+ pounds. Rainey is a capable pass defender, especially in man coverage against TEs, but his strength is coming up to help against the run.

As he matured (and spent time in a college S&C program) Rainey filled out. He’s now up to 195 pounds on his now 6’1” frame. That makes him much more capable of playing the style he wants to play. And that helped him start all 12 games for the Hoos last year. As a strong safety playing next to All-ACC FS Quin Blanding, Rainey was free to be aggressive against the run. In his first extended action with the defense, he finished third on the team with 68 tackles last year, including 3 TFLs. He also recovered a fumble and broke up 3 passes. He even started at SLB against Georgia Tech and the triple-option, as the Hoos tried to get more speed onto the field.

Rainey was a 2-star recruit from ESPN, but was 3 stars Rivals, Scout and 247sports. He’s suffered through a couple of minor injuries, which kept him out of games in both his freshman and sophomore season. Most of that time was on special teams, though he looked good late in the blowout loss to Clemson as a freshman. Against Louisville that year, he recovered a fumble on a punt which helped set up the game winning FG.

Here is Kelvin’s Hudl page, which has highlights from 4 of his HS games. They aren’t the highest quality highlight videos, and each video is only one or two plays, shown from different perspectives. Rainey is wearing #23. He can be hard to find in some of the shots. He’s the guy running across the field to chase down the WR on the end around. He’s also the guy in tight coverage on the WR on the flea-flicker. He’s making good reads and he’s able to get where he needs to be to make the play. And once he gets there, oh boy is he making a hit. Watch the first play in the highlight versus Montgomery High. The opposing QB thinks he has a TD until Rainey lays him out.

Last year as a junior, Rainey really came on. He started all 12 games, and had at least 4 tackles in each game other than the GT game. Playing next to Blanding certainly helps, because he’s able to play off the All-American. His job is simplified and he’s able to be aggressive, knowing who he has behind him. The Hoos’ secondary is likely to be a strength of the team this year, and Rainey is a big part of that.