If you want to be the best, it is wise to learn from the best.
Catalina Foothills junior quarterback Rhett Rodriguez had the opportunity to learn from some of the best the sport and position has to offer as he participated in the Manning Passing Academy in the state he was born in, Louisiana from July 9th through the 12th.
“It was a great experience,” Rodriguez told Sports360AZ.com. “There is no better camp in the country I don’t think and just to learn from so many college quarterbacks, NFL Coaches and of course the Manning family. It was just something that I will never forget.”
A camp that in 2015 had close to 300 applicants, Rodriguez was one of about 130 that was able to get the opportunity in a weekend that consisted of being up from 6:30am to about 10:30pm everyday. The camp includes everything from gaining on-field skills to some of the best guest speakers, spotlighted by Archie, Cooper, Payton and Eli Manning, focusing on what it takes to be successful also off the field.
“It just shows that not only are they great football players but they’re great people also,” explained Rodriguez. “They taught us how to be a better leader and how to be a better quarterback in general.”
“The two things I believed that I mastered the most was improving my footwork but the off the field stuff with some of the life lessons and how to be a leader and how to lead your team to victories,” he added. “Those are the two things I took away from.”
Rodriguez is going into his junior season at Catalina Foothills but it has felt like he has been with the team for much longer. He has started at quarterback for the team since the day he first set foot on campus as a freshman. There has been a learning curve but from all the things that he has learned, those two years have put him in a position where he could be more ahead of the curve than most quarterbacks his age starting at this level.
“Every year that you come back as a starter, you get more and more vocal,” stated Rodriguez. “My freshman year, you can’t really come in and say you’ve got to do this and that because they are four years older than me and will be like ‘ok you’re a little freshman, get out of here I know what I’m doing.’ But now that I’ve been here and this is my third year starting, I have more credibility and they know I know how I could lead us to victories.”
That from a leadership standpoint is how Rodriguez has grown but also his play on the field the game slowing down has been a big part of his success as well.
“I just remember freshman year when it was a hand off, I’d be like ‘ok, you don’t have to think that hard, just take the ball and hand the ball off,'” Rodriguez joked. “Last year I had a little more flexibility and now, I am just really confident in all the plays and I know the offense like the back of my hand.”
Catalina Foothills has really been under the radar the last two seasons with a record of 15-7 since Rodriguez joined the program. They will look to continue to build on that success as this team is growing and maturing with a major core of this team in addition to Rodriguez, being juniors having played varsity now for one or two years.
However they will need to hit the ground running in 2015 because they have a very tough opponent off the bat in Desert Edge for their first game of the year.
“That just makes everyone work harder everyday because we know we can’t come out our first week and play average,” Rodriguez stated. “We’ve got to come out and play good because we are playing a great team in Desert Edge.”