The quest for an offensive tackle in the 2014 recruiting class has led Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator Joe Wickline to the Houston area and Cy Creek product Elijah Rodriguez, who is currently committed to the Colorado Buffaloes.
Now with Texas interest and likely an offer upon making it to campus, Rodriguez is set to take his official visit to Austin this weekend and is certainly on commitment watch.
A consensus three-star prospect, Rodriguez is rated as the No. 112 offensive tackle nationally, the No. 195 player in the state of Texas, and the No. 1478 player in the country by the 247Sports Composite rankings. The 6'6, 285-pounder committed to Colorado on August 23, 2013 and took his official visit in early December. Arizona State, Arkansas State, Fresno State, Kansas, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Texas State, Tulsa, and UCF also extended offers. Rivals is reporting an offer from LSU as a result of recent interest in Rodriguez.
The likelihood of that commitment to Colorado sticking until National Signing Day doesn't seem high, however, as four projections for Rodriguez flipping to Texas came in to the 247Sports Crystal Ball for Rodriguez on Thursday afternoon.
What would the Longhorns potentially be getting in Rodriguez?
For one, a player who appears to have been passed on by Baylor, TCU, and Texas Tech, as he camped at all three schools but didn't receive an offer, as all three opted to take other tackles from the state of Texas.
In Wickline every Texas fan trusts, at this point, and for good reason, but it's worth noting that Baylor offensive line coach Randy Clements is where Wickline was several years ago in terms of perception and may not be far behind the new Longhorn offensive coordinator in terms of evaluating and developing talent.
Unfortunately, the highlights of Rodriguez are rather limited, as there isn't anything available from his senior season.
A right tackle as a junior, it doesn't take long to realize that he has excellent mobility -- he was a player that Cy Creek pulled from his right tackle position and his movement ability in space is impressive, as well his natural flexibility, a key for any football player but especially offensive lineman.
One play in particular stands out -- in getting to the second level on a screen pass to the perimeter, Rodriguez had to re-direct to make contact, but does so without leaving his feet. Instead, he had the reactive body quickness to get his hands on the smaller defensive player to make his block, no easy task.
The persistence to finish blocks is clearly there for Rodriguez, as well as enough baseline athleticism to keep him from being a questionable take, but the area where he will need to show improvement in college is with his punch, which is not one of his better attributes coming out of high school.
The potential offer would mark the first out to an in-state offensive tackle since last summer, when La Grange's Zach Ledwik earned one at a camp. Ledwik then camped at A&M, took a visit to Texas, and promptly committed to the Aggies. In fact, the offer to Ledwik remains as the only offer out to an in-state offensive tackle. Several out-of-state offers were extended, but none of those prospects ever seriously considered the Longhorns.
Given the incredible need for at least one high school offensive tackle in this class, it's hard to imagine what former offensive line coach Stacy Searels was thinking. As with the tight end position for so long, there just wasn't a clear plan in place other than merely waiting.
Regardless of how much upside Rodriguez ultimately has, he is projectable and, frankly, just like at tight end before Blake Whiteley committed and enrolled, and defense tackle after the decommitments, Texas simply needs bodies at the position.
And based on Wickline's reputation, there's every chance Rodriguez could end up being more than that if he commits and develops like so many Oklahoma State offensive linemen did when Wickline was in Stillwater.