After spurning Michigan State and announcing his return to Kentucky, it did not take Vince Marrow long to get back to business on the recruiting trail. The Big Dog took to social media to warn everybody of a commitment coming on Wednesday night and it leaked out very quickly.
Get them dice rolling BBN.
— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) February 20, 2020
Less than an hour later, mid three-star prospect Paul Rodriguez pledged to the University of Kentucky to give UK’s its second Ohio member as well as second overall commit in the class of 2021. Rodriguez is a long offensive tackle prospect out of the Cincinnati, Ohio area who has has a great amount of size. There is no denying the fact that a huge talent exodus is coming to John Schlarman’s offensive line room following the 2020 season and this will be one of the bodies UK will be looking to plug some holes.
It is now time to take you into the KSR Film Room to tell you what type of player Kentucky is getting. The large high school player attends the same high school as current UK linebacker Alex King and appears to have some tools you want a Power Five tackle to have.
When you read the numbers on Rodriguez (6-foot-5, 310 pounds) as a high school junior, you immediately want to see what the he looks like in pass protection. Even though you are retreating backwards it does not have to be passive. The big guy shows a violent strike with his hands that knocks the edge rusher backwards and off their track. At that size, you need to be able to thump opposing defenders with your hands and a good delivery can buy some time in your pass set that will be needed. As he develops, Rodriguez will look to sharpen up his bend and sometimes mechanical drop.
Rodriguez had some type of injury on his right arm that forced him to wear a club for what looked like most of last season and that had an impact on his blocking. Once you dive into his sophomore tape, however, you immediately notice the power. On a stretch outside zone run to the opposite side, the right tackle quickly gets out of his stance and buries the defensive end for a pancake block. This physicality is something that someone his size has to have to be successful on the next level.
There is no denying that he has some big time power and he knows how to throw that weight around.
The one area where the big offensive tackle must get better at dealing with is the speed rush. Despite not getting enough depth on his pass set, he is able to use his strength and long reach to run the edge player out of the play. It gives the quarterback a lane to escape the twist stunt from the inside linebacker, but it’s clear watching his tape that this area must improve. However, this is usually an issue for all tackles his size and he has plenty of time to correct but you would like to see him become more flexible so the bend can be there to easily reach smaller, faster defenders.
Kentucky went back into Ohio to reel in their first offensive commit in the class of 2021 and Paul Rodriguez had some respectable suitors. The big tackle just recently visited Duke and has listed offers from Maryland, Purdue, Cincinnati and Iowa State. Kentucky extended a scholarship offer back in December and two months later the offensive tackle has committed to continue his career at Kentucky.
Due to having to wear a large cast on his right arm for most of his junior season, you really had to go to his sophomore tape to see the potential and it jumps at you quickly. He is a powerful mauler with heavy hands who knocks people backwards when he strikes. That will allow him to fit right in with everyone else in John Schlarman’s position room, but there is plenty of room for growth. He must get more flexible in his pass protection and would like to see more leg drive and finishing ability on his combo blocks that UK uses a lot with their inside zone scheme. However, you absolutely cannot teach the size he possesses and if it all comes together he can be a real force at tackle.
UK is needing to load up at offensive line following a big departure after 2020 and Rodriguez will help fill that void. He is most likely a long-term project, but there are tools there that really impress you. Seeing him play his senior year at 100 percent will be something very close to watch after he moved from right tackle to left tackle between his sophomore and junior season. Kentucky may have gotten in on a prospect just early enough before some bigger schools come calling if he becomes healthier and more comfortable at his new position.