Catalina Foothills quarterback Rhett Rodriguez committed to the first school that offered a scholarship. It was also the school he was most familiar with. The junior signal caller committed to the home town University of Arizona, the program coached by his father Rich.
Rodriguez was offered a scholarship by the school and committed shortly thereafter. One of the big reasons that he chose to accept the spot was that he could now begin trying to lure other recruits to the program. Currently Arizona has two players committed in the class, Rodriguez and 4-star quarterback Braxton Burmeister.
The common misconception is that Rodriguez only received the scholarship because he is the son of the Head Coach, while that is certainly part of it, the younger Rodriguez already has a firm grasp of the Arizona offense, it is not all of it. Unlike many players, Rodriguez has not gone through all the recruiting camps and combines. He has camped with Arizona, but Jeff Scurran, his coach at Catalina Foothills, is wary of his players going to individual camps and picking up “bad habits.”
A lot of schools create their initial recruiting lists based upon performances and evaluations at camps and combines. This is especially true for players from Tucson, who do not always get a lot of attention.
Most players receive their first scholarship offers beginning the spring of their senior years. Although a handful of players get offers prior to the February signing day, most of those are either elite prospects who have already made a name for themselves or players at schools with older players who are being recruited. Rodriguez did not fit either category. It is likely that had he not accepted the early offer from the Wildcats, that Rodriguez would start getting offers as the school year concluded.
Scurran scoffs at the notion that Rodriguez is only the product of nepotism. Scurran has been coaching in Tucson high schools and college for decades and Rodriguez will be his first 4-year starter. Rodriguez did not win the starting job because of his last name. He was competing for the spot over the summer and got his opportunity because of injury. Scurran stresses he wasn’t “given” the reigns because of his pedigree.
Rodriguez has proven himself on the field. He is 24-10 as a starter, taking the Falcons to three-straight playoff appearances, the first time in school history they have accomplished that.
“He has been around winning all his life,” said Scurran.
Scurran has coached his share of D-I players and sees Rodriguez fitting in with the likes of Brian Poli-Dixon, Mike Saffer and Nathan Wise.
“Rhett has thrown for 37 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions and nearly 5,000 yards, and his senior season is still coming” Scurran said. “Even though RichRod is his father this is still an amazing story.”
In addition to a stellar prep career, Rodriguez gets it done off the field as well.
“Rhett is a straight A student,” Scurran said. “He is very humble, very hard working.”
Scurran noted that the elder Rodriguez attends every game, but does his best to avoid being a distraction. Despite basically inventing the offense that the Falcons run, Coach Rodriguez does not but in. In fact, he says that although he and Rhett talk football and watch gamefilm all the time, he will not interject unless specifically asked by Rhett.
“Whenever I come home he’s usually sitting in front of the computer watching game film,” Rich Rodriguez said at a press conference during the regular season. “He will want me to sit and watch it with him. I love that because I like talking ball.”
There is a real debate about how realistic Rodriguez’s chances are playing at Arizona. He is on the small side at 6-1, 165 and Arizona is loaded with well regarded quarterbacks.
By the time Rodriguez gets to Arizona there will be four 4-star prospects on campus including senior Anu Solomon, junior Brandon Dawkins and prized recruit Khalil Tate who enrolled in January. While Rodriguez has designs on playing college football, and would love to play in the NFL, he has more attainable goals in football. Rodriguez wants to join his father in the coaching profession and what better way than working with an innovative offensive coach who happens to be your father?
“He has such a high football IQ,” said Coach Rodriguez. “He wants to be a coach. He will probably be a coach before he is 30. He will be a whole lot better than me because he has a better demeanor.”
You could already say that the Rodriguez’s were the First Family of Arizona Football, in addition to Rich coaching the squad, wife Rita has helped design some promotional campaigns and her famous nacho dip is used to reward outstanding practice players, while daughter Raquel is a cheerleader. Now Rhett, who has been at his father’s side for nearly every home game, will be on the roster.
“This is a great family and I am glad the way things worked out,” said Scurran.
Canyon Allis contributed to this story.