MCGILL: Rodriguez Brings Speed, Versatility to @HerdFB
The Word on the Herd -- July 31, 2017
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Trey Rodriguez only arrived on campus this summer, but he is hardly a stranger on the Marshall University football team.
A little more than 650 days ago, Rodriguez was bouncing around the field for Florida Atlantic, trying to find a sliver of room to run against the Thundering Herd defense. On his second carry against MU, he darted to the right and found future teammate Ryan Bee, then a defensive end, waiting for him. Overall, Rodriguez carried 16 times for 72 yards and one touchdown, meaning he was brought to the ground 15 times by a Marshall defender. Bee isn’t the only current Herd defensive player who tackled Rodriguez that day. So did defensive end Blake Keller and cornerback Rodney Allen.
Now they’re all on the same squad, six days and four practices through preseason camp as Marshall prepares for its season opener at home against Miami University on Sept. 2.
“I’m just happy for the opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “I just want to make something happen.”
Rodriguez, a 5-foot-10, 189-pound junior from Daytona Beach, Florida, is doing just that. The Arizona Western Community College transfer has risen to prominence within the Marshall program as quickly as he hits the hole of a defense, and is turning heads before the calendar as the calendar flips to August.
“He picks up the plays quickly,” Marshall running backs coach Pepe Pearson said. “He’s a one-time guy – you only have to tell him one time and he’ll get it. You combine that with his athleticism and you’ve got something special there. He can be a versatile guy for us: running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield, punt return and kick return.
“We’re looking for him to do a lot for us this year.”
Rodriguez showed flashes of that potential during his first dose of FBS competition. He rushed 70 times for 419 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman at FAU, including a long run of 59 yards. Ten of his 70 carries went for double-figure yardage. His 5.99 yards-per-carry average would have ranked fifth in Conference USA if he had logged enough time on the field.
That explosiveness fits perfectly into what Marshall lacked from the backfield last season, when the Herd ranked last in C-USA in 10-yard rushing plays with 42. Rodriguez is joined in the backfield by fellow newcomer Tyler King, a 5-11, 190-pound redshirt freshman.
“I push him; I tell him I want him to be the best he can be,” Rodriguez said. “Get on me and I’m going to get on you. Same for Keion (Davis) and everybody in the running back group.”
Pearson sees Rodriguez leading King even as workload remains up for grabs.
“He is mature enough that he is helping Tyler out a little bit even though he knows he’s competing, and that shows me a little bit about him,” Pearson said. “(Junior running back) Keion Davis is doing the same thing, which is showing a level of maturity for him.”
Rodriguez dazzled as a sophomore at Arizona Western, rushing for 944 yards and 16 touchdowns. Rodriguez, whose given name is Trevaughn, will wear No. 5 for the Herd and compete for carries with a talented group of backs, including King, Davis, senior Tony Pittman, junior Anthony Anderson and others.
None of that matters to Rodriguez, who only wants to find a way to help Marshall win.
“I’m pretty confident,” Rodriguez said. “… Personally, I don’t care who starts because I know what I can do for the team and the offense. Special teams, too.”