RichRod’s prized football recruit at UA…his son, Rhett

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Rich Rodriguez has just landed a prize recruit that could become his biggest reason for staying around awhile longer as the head coach of the University of Arizona football program.

That glimmer in his eye would be Catalina Foothills High School quarterback Rhett Rodriguez.

Yes, there is a family relationship here.  The junior QB at the Tucson high school who passed for 2,503 yards and 20 touchdowns in the 2015 season, is RichRod’s son.

Rhett sent out a twitter announcement yesterday to let everyone know he had accepted a UofA scholarship offer.

His father’s name has come up more than once in recent months as other college programs began searches to fill head-coaching vacancies.  He was on the media’s short list as various outlets speculated on who would be the next coach at Virginia Tech, and Rodriguez went so far as to interview for the opening at South Carolina.

That led to speculation about his interest in staying with the Arizona program, which he took over in 2011.  After a down year in 2015 that was plagued with injuries, the Wildcats salvaged a winning season by beating the Lobos in the New Mexico Bowl to close out the season with a 7-6 record, the most disappointing finish in his four seasons in Tucson.

Not exactly the way to build up your resume if you’re looking for greener pastures elsewhere.  But perhaps discouraging enough to re-evaluate the continual grind involved with recruiting to the desert and trying to build a national contender with a roster loaded with three-star talent.

Rodriguez had the top linebacker in the country in the line-up this season, but Scooby Wright III missed almost the entire season with injuries – and then announced he was entering the NFL draft.  His defense was terrible this year and needs to be rebuilt, and RichRod is faced with replacing his entire coaching staff on that side of the ball as assistants have been leaving for other programs.

And next season he is going to be faced with some of his toughest Pac-12 opponents on the road.  Getting to another bowl game could be a real challenge.

Rodriguez’s son won’t be on board for another season yet, but he isn’t expected to be an impact player anyhow.  He has been the starter at Catalina Foothills all three years he has played there, but is just beginning to put up the kind of numbers that may get some attention.  But he’s a dual-threat quarterback, which his dad likes, and this season added 624 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns to his impressive passing numbers.

Rhett has his senior year yet to play and his coach, Jeff Scurran, feels he has plenty of upside. Scurran has been his coach throughout his prep career and has watched as the youngster took a program that was winless the year before Rhett arrived and has led the Falcons to three straight playoff appearances.

When Rhett arrives for the 2017 season he will likely have plenty of competition.  Already on board in that recruiting class is Braxton Burmeister, also a dual-threat quarterback, but with a four-star rating.  Burmeister, from La Jolla Country Day in California, is the No. 6-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country and the first to commit to the 2017 class.

Rhett, however, has a unique advantage over all those who will be joining him in the Class of 2017.  There is no one who knows the Arizona offense any better after growing up talking football with his dad.

While his decision to play at Arizona sends a signal that his father plans to be there when he gets to campus, so much can happen over the course of another year.  Should RichRod get the kind of offer from another school that he can’t pass up, either in this off-season or the next, it’s probably a good bet that Rhett won’t be in a Wildcat uniform when the 2017 season rolls around.

Or the youngster might have a break-out year as a senior and get an offer that he can’t pass up.

The most likely scenario is that Rhett will be on board in Tucson if his dad is still running things.  The bigger question is whether he will be able to work his way into the starting line-up the way he did at Catalina Foothills.

Even if he does know people in high places.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)