Following an official visit over the weekend, Houston Cypress Creek offensive tackle Elijah Rodriguez has flipped his commitment from the Colorado Buffaloes to the Texas Longhorns.
The decision caps a whirlwind recruitment that only started in earnest last week when the Texas coaching staff got into contact with the 6'6, 285-pounder whose grandfather played under legendary head coach Darrell K Royal. That connection, along with the fact that the mother of the Cypress Creek product went to Texas, undoubtedly helped the Horns land his commitment.
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 newest Texas pledge 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 also reporting an offer from LSU as a result of recent interest in Rodriguez.
In the days after the news of the planned official visit for Rodriguez, 13 predictions came in for Texas in the 247Sports Crystal Ball projections
What are Longhorns 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 offer for Rodriguez marked 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.
A look at the scholarship chart at offensive tackle reveals just how important Rodriguez is to this class:
|1||Desmond Harrison||Kennedy Estelle||Kent Perkins||Elijah Rodriguez|
|2||Kennedy Estelle||Kent Perkins||Camrhon Hughes||Connor Lanfear|
|3||Kent Perkins||Camrhon Hughes||Garrett Greenlea|
|4||Camrhon Hughes||Garrett Greenlea||Elijah Rodriguez|
|5||Garrett Greenlea||Elijah Rodriguez||Connor Lanfear|
|6||Elijah Rodriguez||Connor Lanfear|
Without the pledge from the big, versatile Cypress Creek product who becomes the second offensive line take of the Joe Wickline era at Texas, the Longhorns would be without a pure offensive tackle in the class and facing a shaky future with Lanfear having visited Texas A&M and Oklahoma Junior Days in the last two weeks and now seriously wavering.
Landing Rodriguez provides a little more margin to absorb the potential loss of Lanfear and helps provide some depth for the future.
He's a bit of a project, so the pressure is still on Hughes to become a serviceable player and on Estelle not to wash out of the program after his academic issues last fall, but Texas will at least have a body to throw on the field in a worst-case scenario for 2015.
It's now up to Wickline to develop Rodriguez in the same way that he developed offensive linemen at Oklahoma State, with little margin of error to miss on his first tackle take.
Now the third offensive line pledge in the class, Rodriguez is the 22nd pledge in the Texas class, which ranks No. 12 nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12 in the 247Sports Composite team rankings.
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