Jacob Rodriguez is starting on defense for the first time in his Texas Tech career
Wichita Falls native Jacob Rodriguez has had a fascinating journey since leaving high school. Recruited to Virginia as a QB, he was quickly asked to play a number of other offensive positions such as receiver, tight end, and running back as a freshman.
He then transferred to Tech where he was converted to middle linebacker, the position that Tech had recruited him to play out of high school. Now, after just one season as a backup linebacker, the junior is being thrust into a starting role at a critical position.
Last year, Tech got tremendous play from its inside linebackers, Krishon Merriweather and Kosi Eldridge. That tandem combined for 203 tackles as they were No. 1 and No. 2 respectively on the team in that statistic. Replacing that type of productivity will be tough.
Wyoming will test the new Red Raider linebackers on Saturday. Last year, they ran the ball 60% of the time and that isn’t going to change in 2023.
Therefore, Tech needs Rodriguez and his inside LB partner, Jesiah Pierre, to play well. But while Pierre has been a LB his entire career (including playing middle LB for Florida before coming to Tech), Rodriguez (who missed spring practice with an injury thus robbing him of valuable practice reps) is still learning the position.
He will be pushed into the deep end of the pool on Saturday and whether or not he can keep his head above water will be a key. Fortunately, Rodriguez is an instinctual and intelligent player who should prove ready for the opportunity that has now come his way.