Rhodes Battles Through Adversity

After missing the last two seasons, RB Jalen Rhodes is healthy and ready to make an impact.z

It's been awhile since UTSA RB Jalen Rhodes has consistently been on a football field.

A member of the 2013 recruiting class, Rhodes suffered an ACL injury in 2012 that caused him miss most of his senior season of high school. As a result of that injury, UTSA decided to delay his enrollment to the following spring. The practice, known as grey-shirting, allowed Rhodes to begin practicing with the team last spring.

But on early in the 2014 spring practices, Rhodes went down with an unspecified injury that caused him to miss all of the 2014 season. And just like that, Rhodes was unable to play football in 2013 and 2014.

“I really can't even explain how frustrating it was,” Rhodes said about last spring. “But I'm healthy now, practices this spring are going pretty good, I've just got to work back into it coming off the injury that I had.”

Originally a three-star recruit out of Rowlett, Rhodes was expected to come in and compete with fellow 2013 signee Jarveon Williams. Now, as Williams begins his Junior campaign as the #1 RB, Rhodes is seeing action as his backup as a Redshirt Freshman.

“It's competitive,” Rhodes said about backing up Williams. “I want to be in the position that he's in. So it just pushes me. But I'm just here to help the team, so if that's as a backup, then that's, the position for now.”

Rhodes' attitude and work ethic is something that Offensive Coordinator Kevin Brown has taken notice of.

“Jalen got hurt the first padded practice last spring. You talk about adversity,” Brown said. “We grey-shirted him, he's get back finally and then he gets hurt. So his attitude has been great. He's starting to run better and he's starting to get his pads down. He's running like a running back should. He's made strides.”

Rhodes says his stopped rehabbing following the 2014 season and began working out. While he is healthy, he admits that he's still shaking off some rust.

“It's new again, to be honest,”said Rhodes. “I mean it;s old but it feels new. I've got to get my muscle memory back and just make sure my body knows what I'm doing again.”

Arguably one of the fastest players on the team, Rhodes says he thinks his speed has improved.

“In my opinion I feel faster,” said Rhodes.

Regardless of where Rhodes lands at this season on the depth chart at RB, look for the speedster to see some action on special teams. UTSA is trying to bottle Rhodes' playmaking ability and speed by returning punts and kickoffs.

“It's very interesting. I really haven't played that much special teams. Where ever I can help, that's fine with me.”

Rhodes' goal for 2015 are fairly simple: “Playing time and staying healthy, that's all I'm worried about.”

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