Rhodes eats up the competition

It would not be an overstatement to say that <b>Nathan Rhodes</b> is arguably the finest offensive lineman in the country. The East Bakersfield native has been on the top of all the recruiting services' list all year when it comes to the OL, so when Dawgman.com called up Nathan earlier this week, we were really only curious about one thing.

Since he's been eating up everyone, what did he have for dinner?

"I had two chicken fried steaks, mashed potatoes and gravy, a big glass of milk, a big bottle of water, and a couple of small candy bars afterward," Rhodes told Dawgman.com Monday night.

Well, I lied. We were curious about a lot of things. Like how his season is going, for instance.

"We're 2-3," Nathan said. "Two of them were close. The first game of the year was a blowout, but we were still just learning to play the wing-t. We're kind of like a roller coaster, going up and down, up and down. If we can get it going up, we're going to be hard to beat."

The wing-t?

"It not really tough, but there are assignments that need to be covered, and as long as you cover those assignments, it's pretty easy, but there are a lot of them you have to memorize," he said.

It doesn't matter what offense Rhodes plays in, the result from his position is always the same. "I'm playing really well," Nathan said. "I'm staying low, coming off the ball quick, things like that. I'm happy with the way I'm playing."

What are college coaches talking to Nathan about? "One of the main things is my size," he said. "I'm 6-7 and 305 pounds. I run a 5.1 40 and have a vertical jump of 27 inches. I have a big wingspan. I went to the Michigan camp and was undefeated in pass blocking going up against the d-tackles. They just say that I'm aggressive and play hard and I have very good technique for a high school player. That's what they usually tell me."

One thing is for sure; Rhodes has not let the process consume him. As highly regarded as he is, the young man still keeps things very much in perspective. "I guess there's some kids that want to just sit around and wait for the phone to ring, but I don't really do that," he said. "I just do my own thing. I make time for it. I go to games and I watch games on TV. But I do my own stuff all the time."

Part of that perspective is being aided by the fact that Rhodes is starting to pare down his list of prospective suitors.

"In the beginning there were a lot of schools, but now I'm telling coaches that I have my top-5 and that I'm going to decide from those 5 schools," said Nathan. "Those 5 are UCLA, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee and Washington."

The Huskies were in a veritable dawg-fight for Nathan's last spot, but Washington Head Coach Rick Neuheisel really impressed Rhodes. "It was going to be between Washington and LSU," said Rhodes. "LSU called and I talked to their recruiting guy a couple of times, but Coach Neuheisel called every time. I've talked to him more than I've talked to the recruiting coordinator for Washington. That shows a lot of passion when the head coach can take time out of his day to call a recruit. I really like their program."

Nathan has more things to say about the headman for the Dawgs. "Coach Neuheisel is a different kind of guy," he said. "He's serious, but at the same time, he's not as serious as like an army drill instructor. He tells you what he wants to say and what he needs to say, and he's very good with words."

Rhodes will visit Tennessee on the 15th and 16th of December, Washington the 7th and 8th of December, Michigan the 5th and 6th of January and Nebraska the weekend after that. His first visit will be to UCLA during the last weekend in November. He has standing offers from all the schools in question.

When it comes to the recruiting experience, those chicken fried steaks isn't the only thing Rhodes has eaten up with enthusiasm. "I wasn't expecting anything," Nathan said of the experience. "I got letters before the Nike camp, but I think I did very well at the Nike camp, and it showed. I started getting a lot more letters and recognition. In the beginning it was really overwhelming, but it's been a great experience. I've talked to a lot of great people and have met a lot of great people. It's been a very good experience and it's been nothing like I expected."

We'll be in touch with Nathan when he returns from his official visit to Washington.

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