ASU Recruit Lance Rhodes

A quick look at the home states of ASU's 2001 recruits would reveal many of the "usual suspects". You'll find a large number of local Arizona kids, and a few from California and Texas. However, one state that sticks out like a rose in the desert is Alabama. The recruiting tale of Alabama high school player of the year and incoming ASU freshman Lance Rhodes is an interesting one to say the least.

The most obvious question concerning Rhodes is how did ASU penetrate the rare recruiting grounds (at least from ASU's perspective) of the deep south, to snag the best quarterback of that region. The combination of ASU and coach Koetter was a very attractive one for the freshman quarterback: "My dad lives in Idaho, and I used to live in Idaho for three years." Says Lance, "So I know of coach Koetter, and I grew up a Jake Plummer fan being an Idaho person. My room is a shrine to Plummer. My dad is a professor at Idaho State University, and a lot of his friends are also friends of coach Koetter. When I found out about coach Koetter coming to ASU, I gave some game tapes to my dad so he can give them to one his friends who knows coach Koetter." Lance's father Rick Rhodes adds: "Lance and I also followed Koetter and his family while they were coaching in Idaho. They coach a wide-open style offense that is fun to watch, and they won everywhere they coached in Idaho." When Lance told his dad that he wanted to send Koetter a tape, Rick Rhodes was scrambling to produce a highlight tape of Lance to give coach Koetter during his last game at Boise State, which was the Humanitarian Bowl in late December. One of Rick's and coach Koetter's mutual friends, John Calivious, gave the tape to coach Koetter during the bowl game in Boise. Koetter treated this as just doing a favor for a friend, and passed the tape on to one of his assistant coaches, who after watching the tape strongly urged Koetter to watch it himself. "So while Koetter was working out on the treadmill, the cable went out." Recalls Rick Rhodes, "So he popped in the tape. After he watched it, he called me right away on the phone. He loved the tape and said that Lance got better as the tape progressed. He thought that something was wrong with Lance since he hasn't committed to any school at that time. He thought that Lance had bad grades or something, which wasn't the case at all. I told him that Lance just wanted to play for ASU. It was just nice that an offensive minded coach liked Koetter completed my kid so much, and said he had a shot playing as a college quarterback."

Lance took a trip later in January to Tempe, and the attraction to the Sun Devils grew even more: "When I visited ASU" Said Lance "I ended up liking the place and the coaching staff. I love the offensive mindset of coach Koetter. I like to live in a big city, and Phoenix is one of the biggest. ASU has a nice campus. I just decided this is place I want to go and spend four years. Other schools recruiting me were pretty much all the SEC conference, and ACC schools like NC State. The majority of them wanted me to play cornerback or slot receiver. ASU and coach Koetter were going to give me the opportunity to play quarterback. That was more to my liking." The accomplishments list of the Hoover (Alabama) high school graduate is probably as long as the distance between his high school campus and the ASU one. Here are some of his notable achievements:

Most Valuable Player (MVP) Class 6A Alabama High School Championship Game

Quarterback of the All-Southern Football First Team 2000 (Voted by Sports Writers from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana)

State record TOTAL TD's season-57

State record MOST PASSING YARDS in Championship game

State record MOST TD PASSES in Championship game

State record LONGEST TD PASS in Championship game

2000 Regular Season Stats:

Completions/Attempts: 193-318

Yards passing: 3,277

Touchdown passes: 37

Interceptions: 8

Rating Efficiency (NCAA) 181.0

Passing Yards 3,277

Rushing Yards: 811

Total Touchdowns: 57 (37 passing, 20 rushing)

What makes these accomplishments even more astonishing is the fact that Rhodes wasn't his high school team's signal caller until his senior year. "My senior year", Says Lance, "We got a new coaching staff, and they brought the same Kentucky style offense that Tim Couch played in. With this type of offense I had a lot of opportunities to make plays, and had a lot of teammates help me make those plays. We had a great defense too. We had a great year and ended up winning the state championship" Much has been written the last several years about the crudeness of the politics of high school athletics nationwide. Unfortunately for the ASU freshman, there was a Mickey Mantle-Roger Maris like situation, when it came to Rhodes' accomplishments. "Brodie Croyle who signed with the University of Alabama had the season touchdown record of 54. I broke his record and had 57. I was a no name, because I didn't play quarterback until my senior season. So I guess I stole the spotlight from him and some others who played quarterback all through high school. Also, my coach, Rush Propst, is very cocky and not well liked in the state. So me playing for him and winning the state title didn't make a whole of people too happy (smile). People were saying that I wasn't as good as Croyle. The funny thing is that Croyle played the lowest division in high school (1A), and I played the highest (6A). So the teams I played were much tougher than the ones he played. There were also a lot of lies and bad things said about me and my girlfriend in all these Alabama high school Internet message boards. I didn't read that stuff much, but my friends told me about it. Almost every day at school they would tell me about a new lie written about me. I didn't care what they said, I just played Football."

The Hoover high school quarterback was "groomed" to play the position from a very young age. Rick Rhodes, who played quarterback at University of Miami between 1966-70 reminiscences: " I have been tossing the Football with Lance ever since he was two years old. I always told him no matter what to hit the wide receiver. It doesn't have to be pretty ball, just complete the pass. If you make pass look spectacular but it's incomplete, you didn't do your job. I always told him to always approach everything as a nobody grunt. If you always have to prove yourself you won't let up." Besides taking after the sound advice of his father, Lance's god-given athletic abilities have played a major role in his success. He lists his strengths as "speed and quickness" and with running the 40-yard dash at 4.4 seconds, and with a 3.87 shuttle time, you won't find many that will argue with his own assessment. Add a 37" vertical to the mix, and it's not hard to see why coach Koetter was blown away by Lance's Football abilities. Rhodes credits his athleticism to "not making too many bad decisions and doing well under pressure." As far as weaknesses go " It would be my height. Also, my arm strength isn't where it should be but it will improve I'm sure."

Like many of his Sun Devil teammates, Lance is spending this summer here in the valley with his teammates preparing for the season: "Conditioning drills are hard especially in the hot weather. Right now it's easier than it was in the beginning, but the first two days weren't fun at all. I kinda got used to it later, and I like the strength coaches a lot. My teammates are great, and all introduced themselves right away. They have been uplifting when I needed it." When asked about his expectations for the upcoming season, the Alabama player of the year states: "Coach Koetter hasn't talked to me much about where I will play, because they don't have a specific position they want me to play. They're going to give me a shot at quarterback, and if I'm as good or better than the others quarterbacks I'm sure I'll play. They said I'd probably redshirt. I know I can play wide receiver but they want to hold off on that. I'll play any position, even special teams."

Nicknamed "White Lighting" Lance Rhodes struck hard and often during his Alabama's player of the year campaign in the 2000 season. If lighting will strike twice, Rhodes will be a permanent and exciting fixture on the Sun Devil offense for many years to come.

Recruit Profile

Name: Lance Rhodes

High School: Hoover, Hoover, Alabama

Position: Quarterback

Height: 5'11"

Weight: 185

Date of Birth: 11/24/82

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Nickname: White Lighting

Favorite TV Show: SportsCenter

Favorite Movie: Snatch'd

Favorite Singer: Sean "Puffy" Combs

Favorite Food: Steak

Favorite Drink: Gatorade

Favorite Athlete: Tim Dwight

Favorite Pro Team: Miami Dolphins (yeah!)

Person you most admire: Tim Dwight. Just like Doug Flutie, people doubt he can play because he's a small white guy he can't do play and he proves them wrong.

First Football Memory: My first TD pass in seventh grade. It was to a friend of mine called Danny. Who knew then that I would hook up with him for 20 more TD passes, and we both would be playing in College.

One Thing most people don't know about me: I'm not as wild at all. I'm a pretty calm guy.

Why did you choose ASU? Coach Koetter and his offense

Where do you want to be in ten years? Playing in the NFL. Otherwise, I'd like to be an endodontist treating root canals.

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