UVA beats out Big 12 offensive machines for dual-threat Texas QB Rodriguez

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: Wichita Falls (TX) Times Record

Bronco Mendenhall has landed his future “Thorterback,” and beat out some of the Big 12’s top offensive powerhouses in gaining a commitment from Jacob Rodriguez of Wichita Falls, Texas.

Rodriguez is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound, dual-threat quarterback who committed to UVA on Monday morning, choosing the Wahoos over Texas Tech, Baylor, Kansas State, Houston, Iowa State and nine other schools. His choice came down to Virginia and Texas Tech, where two of his current teammates have already committed.

“It felt like the perfect fit,” Rodriguez told Jonathan Hull of the Wichita Falls Times Record News. “It’s really hard to pass up on something you feel is right. Just thinking about it and talking it over with family and praying about it, when you know, you know. There’s really no reason to postpone it any longer.”

When Rodriguez arrived at Rider High School, he was projected to be the next great quarterback in the program, a system that had developed several big-time QBs including Baylor’s Blake Szymansi, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and Tulsa’s Shavodrick Beaver.

Rodriguez really blossomed this past season — his junior year at Rider — when he passed for 3,003 yards and 33 touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,247 yards and 16 TDs as he led his team to the Class 5A Division II state semis.

“It’s always kind of been one of my goals to play out of state,” Rodriguez told Hull. “With that, the coaching staff and everyone around it I’ve talked to show that Coach Mendenhall and Coach [Jason] Beck (UVA’s quarterbacks coach) are the real deal. I feel very confident in the situation I’m going into.

“The coaches there are real genuine, and they’ll tell you how it is. Their player development is something I’m looking forward to. I fit perfectly in their scheme.”

While some schools pursuing the Texas star were recruiting him as a defensive prospect, Virginia had him pegged as a future “Thorterback,” a term Mendenhall used a couple of years ago to describe Bryce Perkins, who just signed a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Rams. The term is in reference to the mythological character Thor, who was indestructable and a versatile warrior.

Rodriguez’s numbers as a sophomore were stymied by injuries, but he came on strong last season to become No. 2 on Rider’s all-time total offense list behind Syzmanski. Rodriguez has posted 4,250 yards of offense, which trails Syzmanski by only 218 yards with another season to play.

Other than the aformentioned list of schools, Rodriguez was also offered by Indiana, San Diego State, Army, Air Force, Hawaii, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Tulsa and North Texas.

Rodriguez is the eighth commitment to UVA’s recruiting class of 2021. He is ranked the 112th overall prospect in the state of Texas according to Rivals and is the No. 13 ranked dual-threat QB in the nation according to 247’s composite rankings. He has been timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Because of the pandemic, Rodriguez was not able to visit Virginia, but as 4-star pass rusher Josh McCarron did a week ago, was given a virtual video tour of the campus and football facilities by Mendenhall’s staff. McCarron is from Everett, Washington, just outside of Seattle. Wichita Falls is not far from Dallas.

Rodriguez told Hull that his plans are to graduate in December and enroll at Virginia in order to participate in spring practice in 2021.

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