For 2013 Fort Worth Southwest wide receiver Robbie Rhodes, the publicity involved with the recruiting process was never something that he embraced. So it was with relatively little fanfare -- but not a lot of surprise -- that he made his commitment to the Baylor Bears public on Sunday.
A fast-rising prospect in the spring who is now considered a four-star recruit by all the major services and had broken into the top 50 nationally in the rankings by Rivals and ESPN, Rhodes held at least seven offers, but may have had more, as he sometimes forgot which schools had extended offers. Suffice it to say that Rhodes is talented enough to play for any program in the country.
As such, landing Rhodes is a major coup for the Bears; he's easily the best prospect currently committed in the class and represented a rare head-to-win win for Baylor coach Art Briles over Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns, the team widely considered to have finished second in the Rhodes sweepstakes.
The recent success of Baylor helped sell Rhodes on the Briles and the Bears, but most especially the fact that the staff sold him on being the next Kendall Wright and playing in a high-flying offense. It's a program that has now shown it can produce top-level NFL wide receiver talent after Wright was drafted with the 20th pick this spring, something Texas can not claim in recent years.
It's possible that Rhodes is even more explosive than Wright, who has run a sub-4.4 40. At the Texas state track meet this spring, one of the most impressive sights in the entire event was Rhodes overtaking the Lancaster anchor late in the 4x200m relays to pull out the gold medal -- the extra gear to do so against some of the fastest track athletes in the entire country was chill-inducing.
Rhodes also had an extremely productive junior season on the gridiron, recording a national record-tying eight touchown receptions in a game against Fort Worth (TX) Arlington Heights.
Here's the scouting report on the newest Bear:
At a little over 6-0 and 185 pounds, the measurables don't stand out with Rhodes, who is relatively similar to Ra'Shaad Samples or former Skyline receiver Mike Davis in his ability to quickly eat a defender's cushion to get open on deep passes, though Rhodes probably has better speed than either. Bottom line for defensive backs going against Rhodes -- there's so little evidence of him running any hitches, square ins, or squares outs, throws his quarterback likely isn't capable of making, so it would probably be worth getting into a backpedal quickly when he comes hard off the line of scrimmage.
The result, though, is that his highlights show little about how he performs as a route runner. Can he sink his hips to get in and out of his breaks or is he as raw in that regard as another recent Fort Worth product, current MIssouri Tiger and former Longhorn, Darius White?
Interestingly, Rhodes' highlights are filled with plays in which he both creates separation and makes plays in traffic. Seems impossible, right? Not with a quarterback who consistently underthrows the ball. As a result, there's ample evidence of Rhodes using his superior body control to find and adjust to the ball in the air, though he doesn't have the height and high-point ball skills of other prospects in the class like Whitehouse's Dylan Cantrell, a Texas Tech commit, or Oliver, the Texas pledge.
In terms of post-catch ability, there isn't a lot on film, other than a brief look at some impressive acceleration and the slightest evidence of some shiftiness and vision in traffic while working out of the Wildcat. Unfortunately, the longer highlights that are likely on Hudl are set on private for Rhodes.
While Rhodes isn't able to answer those questions in the summer during 7-on-7, he did impress overall and with a greater variety of route-running at a recent Under Armour event ($):
Simply put, Rhodes was the most talented prospect on hand Saturday, and by a wide margin. The 6-foot-1, 189-pound wide receiver is full of explosive speed and quickness with elite ball skills. His ability to instantly get off the line of scrimmage and into routes is among the best in the country and his ability to sink the hips and create separation in and out of breaks is elite. He made a number of highlight reel grabs during the event, and makes playing the position look smooth, effortless and easy.
It's worth noting that the wide receiver field at that event also included USC commit Eldridge Massington of Mesquite (TX) West Mesquite, Texas A&M commit LaQuvionte Gonzalez of Cedar Hill (TX), and several top 2014 prospects in the state.
Regardless of those minor concerns about his post-catch ability with the ball, Rhodes is a prospect every bit deserving of his lofty national ranking. The 11th pledge in the 2013 Baylor class could provide a significant and lasting boost to the recruiting efforts of Art Briles in Waco, buoyed by that recent on-field success.
Robbie Rhodes (junior offensive highlights) (via 247SportsStudio)