Rhoades, a six-foot, two-inch, 240-pound defensive end/linebacker, has a great deal of potential at more than one position. Some schools see him growing into a defensive end, while others, including West Virginia, envision him using his excellent size and speed as an outside backer. Rhoades, who played last year as a defensive end, will play this year as a standup outside "rush linebacker", similar in style to that played by Canute Curtis on WVU's 1996 wrecking crew defense.
"I've never played that position before, but think I will like it," Rhoades told BlueGoldNews.com. "I've been working with my coach all summer on it, getting familiar with what I will be doing. I think I will be ready for it."
If nothing else, the move should help Rhoades become even more attractive to colleges once they see that he can play more than one position. And with offers already in hand from WVU, Michigan State, Syracuse, Rutgers Cincinnati and Temple, his horizons only figure to broaden as he shows his talent during his senior season.
"West Virginia is looking at me as a linebacker, while some other schools, like Michigan State and Cincinnati, are looking at me at defensive end," Rhoades elaborated. "I don't have a preference for where I play – it's just where I can get on the field the quickest."
Rhoades, who accompanied Maddox on a trip to WVU for the spring game, also recently visited the Mountaineer campus during a lengthy trip. On that junket, he visited Pitt, Michigan, Michigan State and Rutgers. He also has additional trips planned to Syracuse and Cincinnati before school starts. While he's not ready to narrow down his list of schools just yet, he does have good things to say about WVU.
"I met with Coach Rodriguez and Coach Kirelawich on my last visit, and they showed me around. I got to see all the facilities that had been completed since the spring, and I really liked it a lot. I like the way the coaches treated me and the players are together. That opened my eyes some."
Rhoades, who says he and Maddox are "pretty close", admits that the freshman WVU wideout may have already had some effect on his thinking.
"I didn't know a lot about West Virginia until John started looking at them," Rhoades said. "That's what first attracted me to [WVU]. I'm not ready to narrow it down yet, but West Virginia is up there high."
While Maddox's influence could help, it's not certain to make Rhoades' decision a slam dunk.
"John stressed not make an early decision, to go on your officials, and I will do that," said Rhoades of the input his former teammate has given him. "I will not make an early decision – at least not until the end of year."
West Virginia, however, is likely to get one of Rhoades' official visits, and figures to remain one of the frontrunners for his services.
Rhoades tallied 89 tackles, 14.5 sacks and 28 tackles for loss as a junior while earning All-Catholic, All-City and All-Southeastern Pennsylvania honors.