BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Former WKU running back and NFL rookie Bobby Rainey made the final round of roster cuts and earned a spot on the NFL's Baltimore Ravens' 53-man roster on Friday.
Rainey, the rookie free agent pick-up by the Ravens in 2012, has played in all four preseason games, leading the Ravens in rushing attempts (23), receptions (14), punt returns (8) and receiving yards (163), while tying for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns.
"It felt great to get that news," Rainey said. "I was very happy on the inside, but also sad for some of the other guys, knowing that they have families and they may not know where they are working now. But we all know this is a business going into it."
Rainey turned heads with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield throughout the preseason, catching three or more passes in each of the four preseason games, including a four-catch, 73-yard performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week three of the preseason. Rainey also had a 48-yard touchdown reception in that game.
"It really didn't hit me, even when I was playing in the preseason games, that I was actually in the NFL," Rainey said. "To finally have the chance to actually be on the team, it still hasn't hit me. It is a dream come true."
Rainey, the all-time leading rusher at WKU, became the first Hilltopper rookie to make an NFL active roster since both Jeremi Johnson and Sherrod Coates accomplished that feat back in 2003. Johnson claimed a roster spot with the Cincinnati Bengals after being selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, while Coates made the Cleveland Browns' roster as an undrafted free agent in 2003.
Rainey was well-known for his durability on the Hill, carrying the ball 895 times during his time at WKU, including a school-record 369 rushing attempts in 2011, while also setting the WKU single-season rushing record with 1,695 yards, ranking third in the nation in that category. Rainey was just the eighth FBS player since 2000 to have back-to-back 1,500-yard rushing seasons, joining the ranks of now current teammate, Ray Rice, who accomplished that feat while at Rutgers.
Rainey blossomed under head coach Willie Taggart, rushing for over 3,300 yards in his two years with Taggart in 2010 and 2011.
"I still talk with Coach [Willie] Taggart all of the time," Rainey said. "Our relationship is not just based on football. We talk a lot and he helps me through a lot. I still talk with the players [at WKU] and see how they are doing and make sure they have their heads on straight. We are still all in this together. I played with those guys and still have a good relationship with them."
All NFL teams have to be down to the required 53 players on the active roster by Friday night, trimming the active roster down from 75, which was the second cut-down requirement on August 27.
The Ravens open the season at home against division rival Cincinnati on Monday, September 10.