Rhodes Declares a Leader

<b>Nathan Rhodes</b>, a 6-7, 300-pound offensive lineman, considered by many to be the nation's finest lineman, returned from his visits to <b>UCLA</b> and <b>Washington</b> tired, but happy with the way things went in Westwood and Seattle.

"Washington was great," Rhodes told Dawgman.com this afternoon. "I'd say they have a little bit of a lead over the others right now." He visited UCLA mid-week before Washington, has an official visit to Tennessee this coming weekend and has scheduled visits to both Michigan and Nebraska in the offing.

"We got in around 10 or 11 on Friday morning," Nathan said, recounting his first day in Seattle. "We checked into our hotel and then waited for some of the other recruits to show up. Then we went to the Space Needle for lunch. Then we went to school and got a tour of the campus. I got a chance to talk to some people from the business school during my academic meetings. Then we went out to see the team practice."

Rhodes observed a few things about the Huskies while they went through the motions. "First of all, the practice was really high-paced. Everyone seems to be bigger and faster than in high school, but they don't hit as much as a regular high school practice does. They seem to work more with things like the sled, footwork, stuff like that."

Nathan also got an up-close and personal look at offensive line coach Brent Myers. "Coach Myers is a good line coach," he said. "He doesn't scream and yell or cuss at you. He just coaches his butt off and works with them."

Rhodes also talked a little about his one-on-one visit with Myers. "He just talked about his guidelines and what kinds of things they do, like blocking sets for pass plays, stuff like that. He talked about fundamentals. He told me that I'm their number one lineman and their expectations, like 4-year starter, all Pac-10. Those things were nice to hear."

Rhodes and the rest of the recruits then went out to dinner. Nathan's host was none other than Casey Paus, an intriguing choice. "My host at UCLA was a lineman, so it was interesting to have a quarterback host me. Casey was a great guy though. He just told me about what it was like up there and how he's having a good time. He also talked about how the weather isn't too bad."

Saturday brought more entertainment for Rhodes and the other recruits. "We took a tour of the facilities including the weight room, saw practice and then had lunch and dinner." Having already seen UCLA's facilities, Rhodes was impressed with what Washington had to offer. "UCLA only offers free weights in their weight room," he said. "Washington's had machines, weights, chains, everything. There was a big difference. And UCLA doesn't have an indoor facility. Washington's is huge."

Rhodes singled out a few recruits he instantly got along with. "Albert Ma'afala, Albert Toeaina, Alex Potasi," Rhodes said. "Those guys were great. Actually, everybody in the recruiting group was great."

Sunday took Rhodes and the recruits to Coach Neuheisel's house. Rhodes talked to Coach here and there all weekend. "He was at all the luches and dinners, hanging out and talking to everybody," Nathan said. "He's a great coach who is extremely good at what he does. While Coach Myers talked about the offensive line, Coach Neuheisel talked more about the program, because that's what he's focused on."

Did Neuheisel ever pressure Nathan into making a decision about the Dawgs? "Not ever," he said. "They know that I need to take more than just two trips. They never forced me into talking about it or making a decision."

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