Class Impact: Ryan Rodriguez to Miami

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Stefan Adams

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2021 Columbus (FL) OL Ryan Rodriguez committed to the Miami Hurricanes today.


The 6-3 280 pounder is currently a consensus 3-star prospect in the national rankings. According to the 247Sports Composite Ranking, Rodriguez is the #538 player nationally in 2021, the #6 OC in the country, and the #75 player in the Sunshine State. His commitment moved UM’s class ranking on 247Sports up to #7 in the nation and to #10 on Rivals.


The Player

So ends one of the least suspenseful recruitments in recent memory. Rodriguez and his family have long been known as huge Miami fans, and ever since he received his offer from UM in mid-January, the Columbus star has been expected to choose the Canes. Rodriguez was then able to visit Miami for both junior day in late January and in early March for a spring practice; it would be the only P5 visits he would make. Although he originally wanted to see some other schools before making a decision, the campus lockdowns prevented any other school from presenting a challenge to UM, even though it would have been a longshot for them regardless. Instead of continuing to delay the inevitable, Rodriguez decided to go ahead and end any doubt by committing to UM today. He chose Miami over Ole Miss, Louisville, West Virginia, Wake Forest, and Syracuse among others.

Rodriguez played LT for a Columbus team that won their first state championship and helped pave the way for record-setting back Henry Parrish, but he projects on the interior in college and Miami likes him at center. He is an emerging prospect that has improved every step of the way and carries underrated physical traits. Big frame for a center with broad back, long arms, and strong hands, but could still stand to add more muscle mass. Plays through the whistle consistently and shows a high level of aggression. Doesn’t stop until he gets his man on the floor. A technically advanced prospect for his age that understands the position and how to use leverage, and Rodriguez also makes the most out of his hand placement. Going to excel in the run game at the next level, and any weaknesses in his pass sets will be aided by a move to the interior where he’ll have more help. Known as a strong leader in the locker room that sets a high standard that teammates follow.

I got an in-person look at Rodriguez at the Under Armour Miami Camp in March and he was certainly impressive. He anchored the line at center all day, went up against a deep defensive tackle field, and didn’t look out of place at all. In particular, he completely stoned Gators 4-star DL commit Tyreak Sapp on back-to-back reps. He is playing above his current ranking right now.


The Class

Rodriguez is the 13th commit overall in the 2021 class and the third O-Lineman along with Miami Central (FL) 4-star OG Laurence Seymore and Marjory Stoneman Douglas (FL) 4-star OT Michael McLaughlin. That’s quite a start for UM at a huge position of need, with McLaughlin acting as a high-upside developmental talent on the edge, and Seymore and Rodriguez playing the roles of interior beasts. The Canes took way less OL last cycle (2) than they really needed, and with the overall numbers down at this spot on the roster, Miami is going to look to take at least 4 and possibly 5 linemen in 2021. That’s going to mean UM is looking for one more tackle while keeping another potential spot open for best available.

With Brentwood Academy (TN) 4-star OT Eli Sutton committing to UNC last month, two tackle prospects have emerged as top priorities for Garin Justice: Robinson Secondary (VA) 5-star Tristan Leigh and Trinity Catholic (FL) 4-star Caleb Johnson. Leigh has been in daily contact with Justice and told CIS last month that LSU, Clemson, Florida State, UCF, Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, Virginia, and Oklahoma are some other programs standing out to him. Despite the heavy competition, sources close to the program feel Leigh is very high on the Canes and expect UM to land an official visit when campuses open up again. Leigh’s position coach at Robinson Secondary is also a “die-hard” Canes fan, which is helping to keep Miami in the game. Still, the same source feels LSU is out in front for the time being.

With Johnson, the Trinity Catholic star told CIS that he and his family have made a real connection with Justice and I’m told that’s certainly the case from program sources as well. For example, Justice spent 2 hours on a Zoom call last week speaking with Johnson and his father, and the pair love what Justice brings to the table in terms of his teaching ability. While FSU and Auburn are seen to lead for Johnson at the moment, Miami is going to do whatever possible to make it hard on the Noles and Tigers.

Elsewhere, I know Miami is very high on Helix (CA) 4-star OG Josh Simmons and Justice has been on him daily since Miami offered in late March. Simmons decommitted from Oregon shortly after UM offered. 3-star OT Terry Wells from Wynne (AR) was in the process of trying to set up a spring visit to Miami before the shutdowns despite being a current commitment to Arkansas; he told CIS he is still looking to visit once the quarantine lifts. Ditto for Wayne County (GA) 4-star OG Weston Franklin, who is someone UM has kept tabs on over the past few months. Sierra Vista (CA) 3-star OG Anthony Rosas just put Miami in his top 8 two weeks back; although UM likes him as a player, they have others ahead of him on their board and haven’t spent a ton of time on him. Mater Dei (CA) 3-star OG Ross Maseuli landed an offer in late March as well, but it’s unclear if there’s any real traction as of yet there.


The Team

Justice has his work cut out for him after inheriting an OL group that has some dead weight from recruiting misses and is known for some truly awful play over the past few years. Miami experimented heavily with different lineups in their 4 spring practices, and it doesn’t seem like anybody’s job is safe or guaranteed. Along with only one expected offseason departure (Navaughn Donaldson) ahead of the 2021 season, all of those factors would seem to favor a freshman lineman in search of early playing time.

If Rodriguez can continue to add more size in the next year and a half before the first game of his freshman season (and there’s no reason he can’t), he could certainly make a case to see playing time on a below average Miami line, so being able to get to campus early for spring ball would be big for him. Technically advanced, tough on the field, and strong off of it, Rodriguez has the makeup of a prospect who plays early in their college career, and he profiles as a multi-year starter at the next level. When current starting center Corey Gaynor leaves following the 2021 season, expect Rodriguez to battle it out with Jakai Clark and others for the starting center role.

 
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