Rodrigo starts slow, finishes camp season in a sprint

Updated through July 20, 2014

Rodrigo's near-perfect technique helped him capture the kickoff title at the recent FBU competition camp in Kissimmee, Fla.
Rodrigo’s near-perfect technique helped him capture the kickoff title at the recent FBU competition camp in Kissimmee, Fla.

Gradually shaking off an early-summer slump, Rodrigo steamrolled through late-summer competition running up to the important Top Gun camp July 18-19 in Dublin, Ohio, where he earned a spot on the U.S. Army All-American Bowl roster as the kicker for the East squad.

The wins were few and far between early on, but by the time Rodrigo dominated all three phases of the kicking competition at Cornell in late June, he had managed to right the ship, finishing with 12 wins, two second places and two third places from a total of 22 competitions.

In field goals, Rodrigo prevailed six times with two seconds in 11 competitions of various kinds. In kickoffs, he captured four competitions and finished third twice out of nine attempts.

At the Top Gun camp, Rodrigo won two field goal competitions, tied for first in another and was third in the only kickoff competition, upping his summer mark to 26 competitions, with 15 wins, two seconds and three thirds.

In punting, Rodrigo competed only twice, but won both. For the summer, his kickoffs averaged 72-yards-plus, his field goal accuracy was well over 90 percent, and the majority of his punts had hang times of 4-seconds-plus.

Rodrigo claims Prokicker.com’s Top Prospect title

Finishing a grueling double-charting competition with a pair of 70-plus kickoffs, Rodrigo soared away from the Prokicker.com Top Prospect competition on Saturday, May 24, in Nashville, Tenn.

Rodrigo more than validated his status as Prokicker’s reigning first team All-American kicker even though operating at less than maximum efficiency during the lengthy charting sessions.

Rodrigo’s last two kickoffs traveled 74 and 71 yards with respective hang times of 3.82 and 4.13 seconds to hold off the small prospect field of nine other competitors, concluding a three-hour session that included two field goal and two kickoff charting periods.

For Rodrigo, it was his 16th win in his last 25 competitions to go along with six second places and one third place. In two field goal competitions Rodrigo failed to make the final round. Of his last nine nine competitions, Rodrigo has won 8 and finished third once.

Rodrigo blitzes FBU competition, earns Top Gun invite

Rodrigo took a giant step toward the U.S. Army All-American Game with an overwhelming performance in the Football University/Orlando competition camp Apr. 4-5 in Kissimmee, Fla. With a scout from the U.S. Army selection committee observing, Rodrigo blitzed the invitational field by capturing the field goal and kickoff competitions and finishing third in punting, capping off his overall performance by winning the high-pressure camp field goal competition with 100-plus campers screaming in his ears. He was later designated camp MVP by kicking instructor Chris Sailer.

FBU is the parent organization that selects rosters for the U.S. Army All-American Game, held each January at San Antonio’s Alamodome, an indoor facility Rodrigo is quite familiar with, having played four times in FBU’s All-American games as a seventh, eighth and ninth grader.

In Kissimmee, Rodrigo launched dead-center field goal attempts from 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 yards as each of the remainder of the 10-man field fell out of the double-elimination format. The last three’s second misses were from 55, giving Rodrigo the title.

In the kickoff finals, Rodrigo’s winning effort was a 74-yarder with a career-best hang time of 4.45 seconds. The high-pressure kick followed a 72-yard, 4.10-second hang time kickoff by his finals opponent.

Rodrigo is a first team all-state punter and a first team All-American kicker.
Rodrigo is a first team all-state punter and a first team All-American kicker.

Rodrigo was a respectable third in the punting eliminations, and finally, with all of the 180-plus campers surrounding the field goal kickers, half representing the offense and half the defense, Rodrigo calmly ignored the yelling and screaming from all sides, converting from 40 and 45 yards to give the defense the win as the offense’s kicker hooked his 45-yarder wide left.

Rodrigo earned an invitation to Top Gun July 17-19 in Dublin, Ohio, where the invitations to the U.S. Army game will be issued. It will be Rodrigo’s fifth straight appearance at Top Gun.

Prokicker.com National Championships

Outgaining all competitors, underclassmen and seniors alike, Rodrigo executed a rare double at the Prokicker.Com National Championships in Bradenton, Fla. on Dec. 21-22, triumphing in both kicking and punting categories.

Rodrigo on Saturday became a two-time winner of the kicking division with a perfect 10-for-10 field goal percentage and 64-yard, 3.84-second hang time kickoff average in a strong, swirling wind, successfully encoring his 2012 performance.

On Sunday, his qualifying round average of 42.5 yards punting with 3.76 hang time average, again influenced by high winds, gained him his second title of the weekend. A tightening quadricep forced him out of the final punting round, but none of the competitors could match his earlier round.

Approximately 30 kickers/punters from about 20 states participated, including entrants from California, Washington state, Texas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee plus one from Canada.

Rodrigo concluded his 2013 football performances with a convincing 12-point outing in the Georgia Junior Bowl on Dec. 31. Related story is under the 2013 Season tab.

Also recently, Rodrigo acquired a new pair of No. 1 national rankings based on camp performances.

When the Kornblue Kicking Fab 50 was released in July, Rodrigo was ranked No. 5 nationally with a 5-star rating. The only kickers ranked ahead of him and the only other 5-star kickers were from the Class of 2014, making Rodrigo the No. 1-ranked kicker for the 2015 recruiting class. In Kornblue’s Fab 50, the next-highest kicker from the class of 2015 was ranked 21st.

Rodrigo competed in a Kornblue showcase in Roswell, Ga. and also was impressive at the University of Georgia camp, operated by Kornblue Kicking, a national rating service based in Florida..

Rodrigo is also the nation’s No. 1-ranked punter for the recruiting class of 2015, according to Team Jackson Kicking, another southern-based rating service, this one headquartered in Alabama. Rodrigo participated in and dominated a Team Jackson showcase event in Montgomery, Ala. in mid-July.

Rodrigo has accumulated more than a dozen No. 1 national rankings, and has been ranked No. 1 at one time or another by Ray Guy, Chris Sailer, Jamie Kohl, Brian Jackson, Brandon Kornblue and Mike McCabe. Michael Husted has ranked Rodrigo as high as second nationally.

Rodrigo was first named No. 1 in the country by Ray Guy/prokicker.com in the summer of 2010 after Rodrigo competed in the Ray Guy regional camp in Atlanta following completion of his seventh grade school year.

A busy camp schedule for Rodrigo ended in late July, just in time for fall practice with his Sprayberry teammates. A lingering lower back muscle strain limited his Ray Guy performance to 9-of-10 field goals and 67-yard kickoff average, but he still finished his eight-camp odyssey with 90-percent-plus field goal accuracy and 71-yard-plus kickoff average.

See below for capsulized camp summaries.

Top Gun: Despite bad weather and a strained right quadricep, Rodrigo managed to capture two victories at the prestigious Top Gun invitational July 18-20 in Dublin, Ohio.

Rodrigo claimed the field goal charting title with a 9-for-10 performance as the rest of the field missed at least two or more. After incurring his quad injury on the last day, Rodrigo still took the Last Man Standing field goal competition; his winning kick was only 45 yards as everyone else had been eliminated.

He also finished runnerup in the kickoff charting competition despite the quad injury, with an average kickoff distance of 70.8 yards.

Southern Invitational Showcase: Rodrigo’s only visit to Alabama this summer was a memorable one on July 15 as he dominated the Southern Invitational Showcase at Huntingdon University in Montgomery, earning a 5-star national rating from sponsor Team Jackson Kicking.

Rodrigo won the overall field goal competition, with a decisive 57-yarder to nail down the victory, plus the overall field goal charting title and the longest field goal crown (the 57-yarder) en route to being chosen by the coaching staff as the camp’s most outstanding kicker.

Rodrigo finished second in three other categories: longest kickoff and best kickoff (distance plus hang time), losing out to a college kicker bound for LSU as a preferred walkon, and Last Man Standing in punting, losing to a rising senior.

South Carolina camp summary: After an uncharacteristic miss from 47 yards that knocked him out of the field goal competition, Rodrigo triumphed in the kickoff competition that followed immediately afterward at the June 23 camp.

Only three of the 80 kickers survived the first round requirements of college end zone plus 3.7 hang time; Rodrigo was one of them with a 67-yarder and 3.97. In the next round, the hang time was upped to 4.0 seconds. Rodrigo and one other kicker reached the college end zone again (Rodrigo’s was 68 yards), but Rodrigo’s hang time was 4.09 while his opponent’s was well under 4.0, boosting Rodrigo to the title.

Rodrigo’s 10 best kickoffs averaged 9.9 yards deep, with a camp-best long of 78 yards plus others of 74, 73 and 71 yards. His best punt was 54 yards, his best punting hang time was 4.25 seconds, and his best 10 kickoffs averaged 4.01 seconds in hang time.

Ohio State camp summary: Rodrigo captured his third consecutive field goal competition on June 12, last day of the Ohio State camp in Columbus.

Driving a 60-yard field goal straight down the middle after all other participants went out after 48 yards, Rodrigo triumphed over a field of about 25.

Also during the Ohio State camp, Rodrigo averaged 71.7 yards for his kickoffs, with best kickoffs of 80, 78 and 77 yards. He had six hang times of 4.0 seconds or better, including a career-best of 4.35 seconds.

Florida camp summary: Rodrigo finished second in kickoffs for the third straight camp, losing out on a lesser hang time in the finals in the field of 38 kickers. He captured the field goal title despite having off-the-ground conditions imposed by camp instructors after the first two rounds from 40 and 45 yards.

He missed from 50 on his first off-the-ground attempt in the double-elimination format, but then converted from 50 and then 52 along with four rising seniors, then drove a 55-yarder over the crossbar and watched as the four other finalists all came up short, each of them missing for the second time overall.

Georgia camp summary: Drilling field goals from 54, 55, 57 and 60 yards against a brisk breeze after all other participants had dropped out at 52, Rodrigo was a runaway champion as Coach Mark Richt and some members of his staff observed.

Rodrigo converted nine consecutive field goals in the two-misses-and-out format. With the wind steadily blowing in his face, he finally missed one from 62 yards, then moved on to the kickoff competition, which began immediately afterward.

In kickoffs, Rodrigo advanced to the final round with a series of 70-plus efforts with a best of 76, and ended runnerup after tiring and hitting a poor one with his ninth kickoff. Overall, his kickoffs averaged 70 yards.

LSU camp summary: Rodrigo’s first summer kicking camp was also a memorable one as he lit up the LSU practice fields in Baton Rouge on June 1 with a dominating kickoff performance.

By the time the one-day camp concluded, Rodrigo had driven three kickoffs of career-best 80 yards, added a pair of 78-yarders, a pair of 76-yarders, averaged 15.5 yards deep for his best 10 kickoffs and guided three straight kickoffs through the uprights while kicking from the 35-yard-line.

On Dec. 15-16, 2012, Rodrigo competed in the Prokicker.com (Ray Guy) National Kicking Championship in Bradenton, Fla., where he won both the high school division national title and senior/scholarship division.

Rodrigo averaged 65 yards and 3.77 hang time for his kickoffs (half of them against the wind) and made 90 percent of his field goals to capture the crown over four other finalists who advanced out of qualifying rounds.

Rodrigo’s overall statistics were the best in both divisions (scholarship division included only seniors), including scholarship champion Houston Ray of Owensboro, Ky. Rodrigo had the longest kickoff of the event, a 75-yarder during qualifying that barely missed going over the crossbar — just wide left — and had the best hang time of the day as well, a 4.06.

Just for good measure, Rodrigo also won the end-of-day field goal competition, easily making a 60-yarder to eliminate the last opponent.

On Sunday, Rodrigo became the only kicker who also qualified for the punting finals, and finished fifth overall in a field of punting specialists.

The invitation-only event drew more than 60 participants from 22 different states.

On Jan. 19-20, 2013, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Rodrigo won the field goal championship in the Adidas National Expo invitational, an event that also drew 60 participants. Making 90 percent of his field goals to qualify for the final, Rodrigo defeated finalists from all grade levels by making a 52-yarder.

In the kickoff category, Rodrigo advanced out of qualifying as the No. 2 overall kicker, averaging 68 yards and 3.9-second hang time. In the one-kickoff-only finals, he had a 68-yarder but finished behind a pair of seniors who hit 70-plus.

Current/previous camps and rankings:

2014 — FBU/Orlando — camp MVP.

2013 — Prokicker.com (Ray Guy) — seven No. 1 national rankings; Oneononekicking.com — No. 1 national ranking.

2012 – Chris Sailer (No. 1 national ranking), Kohl’s (No. 1 national ranking), University of Georgia, University of Alabama, Ohio State University (camp MVP), University of Florida (camp MVP), Top Gun (camp MVP), Ray Guy (three No. 1 national rankings, two No. 2 national rankings)

2011 — Ray Guy (three), University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Top Gun, Chris Sailer (No. 1 national ranking), National Combine Series

2010 – Football University, Ray Guy, Top Gun, University of Georgia

2009 — Football University, Ray Guy