Community Sports

When longtime GH resident Rang speaks, pro football listens

Posted on October 13th, 2022 By:

Rob Rang was a senior at Central Washington University when John Taylor of asked him to scout the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

The Senior Bowl is where many of the most-talented college football seniors play in hopes of catching the attention of pro football evaluators.

At 21 years old, Rang was younger than many of the players he was evaluating.

At that 2002 Senior Bowl, Rang wrote reports on players like future Hall of Famers LaDainian Tomlinson and Steve Hutchinson. How did that happen at such a young age? Did he have an inside connection, win a contest or was he just lucky?

As the adage often attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca says: “Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation.”

Rob Rang scouting at the Senior Bowl. Courtesy Rob Rang

Meet Mr. Rang, teacher at Mount Tahoma

Rang, 46, is a longtime Gig Harbor resident and Tacoma native. He has a full-time job as a history and English teacher at his alma mater, Mount Tahoma High School. His is also a scout for the British Columbia Lions, a Canadian Football League team in Vancouver.

He grew up playing baseball and was on the Mount Tahoma football team, but as a freshman he decided to quit the sport he loved.

“Football is a game of toughness, both mentally and physically,” he said. “I wasn’t the biggest or the strongest but the real reason was, I just wasn’t tough enough to endure it at the time.”

That decision wore on him over the years. Every new season thereafter, regret hurt like a pair of brand new shoes.

He credits that regret for keeping him motivated to stay involved in the game. To that end, he watched games, studied tape and created lists that detailed which players teams should be interested in acquiring.

The evaluations were often accurate. He has an eye for talent and the intelligence to communicate. He feels that combination is his greatest strength today.

CWU assignment leads to a big break

Rang’s big break came in 2001 at CWU. A professor in a class called “Using Technology in the Classroom” assigned students to create a web site (the internet was still fairly new then) that would be informative and draw readers. Rang thought this was a perfect opportunity to share his football information, — specifically on who the Seahawks should draft.

Within two weeks, the professor told Rang that people were reading at impressive rates. Some were calling the school to find out more about the talent evaluator who was so detailed.

Not long after, a cult following developed around Rang’s work. He got the invitation to evaluate talent at the Senior Bowl. A stunned Rang scraped together his last few bucks to buy a round-trip ticket to Alabama.

Once there, he communicated to peers twice his age that he clearly didn’t have their experience, his thing called a website got him the invite, and he wasn’t a past football star. But he wasn’t there to take anybody’s job either. He just wanted a chance to share his information after seeing the nation’s best play.

The humble, honest approach worked and led him to many important introductions that weekend. Rang slid his foot into professional football’s door.

Well-known voice on the radio

His next big break came when offered him a position to write for their website alongside industry heavyweights like Frank Cooney. Since then, Rang has built a solid reputation as a respected evaluator, writer, broadcaster and scout.

He is a current Fox Sports NFL draft analyst and has appeared locally on sports radio station KJR for 15 years. He has written evaluations for numerous pro teams and appeared in magazines, websites and made appearances on radio and TV shows as arguably the most respected draft analyst in the Pacific Northwest.

Last summer, he attended NFL training camps of the Chiefs, Chargers, Rams, Seahawks and Broncos to evaluate possible players for the BC Lions.

B.C. Lions pro scout Rob Rang at a Los Angeles Chargers’ training camp practice, looking for players. Courtesy Rob Rang

CFL team OK with Rang keeping his day job

Rang calls his job with the Lions his “greatest achievement” and the one he’s most proud of. They have also accommodated his desire to remain a high school teacher. He has had offers from NFL teams but turned those down for a couple of valid reasons.

One is the unpredictability of employment.

“One coaching staff may really like your work but they may have a losing season or two and the whole staff may be fired,” he said.

Another reason? He doesn’t want to give up teaching.

“My students mean the world to me and I’m not prepared to leave them,” Rang said. “When a team could accommodate my schedule and I could remain as a teacher then I could commit and that’s exactly what the Lions have done.”

A scouting philosophy

What are the key elements to consider when choosing athletes?

“Well, obviously they have to have the size, strength and athleticism for the position,” Rang said, “but specifically they have to be able to change direction quickly, have flexibility and a must is to be able to run through contact, while maintaining balance and speed.”

One the mental side, “they have to have grit.”

“They have to have toughness, and be able to handle adversity without stopping, this game is so demanding and players at this level have to be determined. Plus teams win and lose a lot, it’s part of the game, how do they handle that? It’s important they do their best when things aren’t going well.”

When asked what the most important position groups to acquire would be if he were building a team from scratch, he lists quarterback as No. 1, saying it is the single most important position on the field. He looks for the 5 A’s: accuracy, anticipation, arm strength, athleticism and attitude.

His second choice is a quality defensive line to render a great QB mute with pressure. His third most important group is defensive backs to control the passing game as well.

“As much as I loved old-school football and linebackers like Jack Lambert, today the game is about speed and you have to stop the quarterback and receivers to win,” Rang said.

Canadian Football League scout Rob Rang and his wife, Emily, before the B.C. Lions game in Vancouver. Courtesy Rob Rang

Rob Rang and famous Seahawks

Several Seahawks are among Rang’s best-known scouting successes.

In 2005, Rang identified Lofa Tatupu as an underrated prospect. Then Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren agreed, and Tatupu became a major player for the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.

Rang also lent credibility to the Seahawks’ 2012 draft after experts criticized their selections. Rang insisted that the class of linebackers Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner, quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Robert Turbin were all legit.

One famous report quoted Rang, who was at training camp when a national writer asked what he thought about the 5-foot-9 Wilson’s chances.  Rang enthusiastically replied, “I love him” and “I love this class.” That quote was reported and spread nationwide as Wilson went on to start as a rookie.

Rang was already on a hot streak with Seahawk players after insisting that Richard Sherman had what it took to play defensive back in the pros.

Sherman was a wide receiver for part of his career at Stanford before switching to defensive back. Rang believed Sherman had the ability to play corner in the NFL. The Seahawks stole Sherman in the fifth round of the 2011 draft and he became one of the best defensive back in the team’s history.

The best scouting job of his career

Rang made many other astute picks over the years. But Rang’s finest talent evaluation and selection was when he married his wife, Emily. The couple enjoy many activities together and Emily is totally supportive of Rang’s careers. They lovingly share two dogs together. “My kids are in my classroom,” Rang said.

One of their favorite things to do together is fish the Harbor.

“July 31st is a perfect anniversary date, we spend every year fishing for salmon right out in front of the mouth of the Harbor,” Rang said. “We have caught some 20-pounders out there together and always have so much fun. It’s football and fishing for us.”

The Rangs lived in Gig Harbor for years but recently moved so Emily could have a shorter commute to a new job in Olympia. Emily graduated from Gig Harbor High School and her parents, Rich and Mary Brown, still live in town.

The couple visit often and have plans to move back. “Our first date was at El Publito and our go-to spot is The Tides, we attend the outdoor concerts, farmers markets and we love everything about the Harbor,” Rang said.

Currently Rang is busy helping his students prepare for the SAT and devouring college football tape on the weekends, searching for pro talent.

Rob and Emily Rang enjoy the day as Rang proudly reps his Tides Tavern shirt throughout the Northwest. Courtesy Rob Rang

One can’t help but root for Rob Rang as his enthusiastic voice conveys one interesting football story after another. His passion is clear for his team, his students and his wife.

Yes, he is a lucky man but he is making his own luck the hard way. He is earning it, with plenty of preparation as each and every opportunity comes his way.