By FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ
“He’s one of those guys who was a freshman when I got here, and he’s gone all the way through the program,” said San Benito High School Head Coach and Athletic Director Spencer Gantt during a signing ceremony for Rodriguez on Thursday. “Nobody could ever question his work ethic on and off the field. I couldn’t be more proud of him and what he’s accomplished for us.”
Gantt described Rodriguez as a leader on and off the field who motivated those around him to put in extra time in the classroom.
“Probably the biggest thing that I’m most proud of is during his sophomore year, he felt that if he was really going to go to college, that he needed to start working on his grades,” said Gantt. “He has put so much time in the classroom and overachieved in the classroom. That’s exactly why he’s sitting here today. He’s going to school because he’s academically qualified to go to school, and he’s going to school to do something that he absolutely loves to do, which is play football. I couldn’t be more excited about this.”
Rodriguez, who played outside linebacker throughout high school, will be pursuing a degree in accounting while playing football at Texas Lutheran University, a Division III football program.
“It’s been a really good experience,” Rodriguez said of his time at SBHS. “It’s taught me a lot of lessons, and it just taught me to be a better person. What I’m going to take away from this is leadership, because that plays a big role, and I have to stay on top of my grades and just stay on top of my game. I can’t let up.”
“He’s just got a great gift of leadership,” Gantt said. “He is a great leader on and off the field. These kids rallied around him constantly, and he did an outstanding job of keeping their fire going and keeping them motivated. I think the most important thing is they saw what he was doing in the classroom, and it really motivated them to excel in the classroom.”
Gantt added, “Football is a fleeting moment in our lives. There is going to come a time when there is no more football, and what do you have to fall back on? He’s going to have a great education from this high school, San Benito High School, and he’s going to have a great education from Texas Lutheran to fall back on.”
Rodriguez explained how he plans to balance playing football at the college level while maintaining his grades in pursuit of an accounting degree.
“I plan to just do my football, and when it comes to studying I have to put in my time,” said Rodriguez. “I just have to balance everything and figure it out somehow. (Football) was probably the best experience I’m ever going to have in my high school years. It was really fun. It’s something I love and I’m really going to miss.”