Pitt FB Recruiting
Fast-Rising 2024 3-Star TE Willie Rodriguez Building Foundation With Pitt Coaches
What has attracted Pitt to Willie Rodriguez? He’s one of the top heavyweight wrestlers in Kentucky, the winner of over 100 high school matches.
But the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder isn’t a lineman. No, he’s an ultra-athletic, ultra-physical tight end out of Covington Catholic High in Park Hills, Kentucky. And he picked up an offer from Pitt earlier this month.
“It started when coach (Randy) Bates, the defensive coordinator, came to see me at school,” Rodriguez told PSN. “He saw me at school, and I met him, shook his hand and everything and started to communicate over the phone. Then coach (Tim) Salem, the tight ends coach, we talked.”
Bates extended the offer about a month after his visit down to Covington Catholic.
After a great conversation with @BatesBacker I am extremely grateful to have received my 7th Division 1 offer from The University of Pittsburgh! @CoachDuzzPittFB @CoachTimSalem @AdamCalt @graham_wilbert pic.twitter.com/zdYpy82Ta0
— Willie Rodriguez (@w_rodriguez10) February 6, 2023
Pitt added its name to a list of offers that currently includes Boston College, Connecticut, Eastern Kentucky, Indiana, James Madison, Marshall, Miami (Oh.), Ohio, Syracuse, Toledo, UAB, Virginia Tech and Western Michigan — with interest from Kentucky, Louisville, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Washington.
Rodriguez’s recruiting process has blown up over the last month, receiving five Power Five offers, and it will likely only continue to rise as his two-way dominance is shown on the summer camp scene.
Pitt was the second Power Five school to extend Rodriguez an offer, and Rodriguez has begun to build a relationship with Bates and Salem.
“We talk about my game obviously, and we talk a lot about wrestling because they love wrestling, so they love talking about that and just trying to get me up there in the spring,” Rodriguez said.
As a kid from Kentucky, he isn’t super familiar with Pitt as a program, but he recognizes that a lot of big-time players have emerged out of Pittsburgh.
When it comes to Rodriguez himself, who is able to translate his wrestling prowess into toughness in multiple ways — footwork, technique and hand placement — on the football field, Pitt sees him as a potential stud tight end across the board.
“(Salem) said that he loves my length and my physicality,” Really just loves how I play and how I’m a wrestler also.”
As a junior at Covington Catholic, Rodriguez was both a big-bodied red zone target and a receiver capable of creating big gains, hauling in 14 receptions for 295 yards (21.1 yards per reception) and five touchdowns.
247Sports rates Rodriguez as the 36th-ranked tight end and the 10th-ranked recruit from Kentucky. Rivals rates him as the ninth-ranked recruit from Kentucky — holding a 5.5 Rivals Rating.
Rodriguez has made visits to Cincinnati, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisville and Notre Dame since the start of the 2022 season, and he will have a busy spring.
His only scheduled visit so far is Indiana in March, but he’s received Pitt’s spring practice schedule and plans to make an unofficial visit up for a practice. To go along with other interested programs.
“I like the (Pitt) coaching staff a lot,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve shown me a lot of love, they keep sending me stuff and really show me a lot of Pitt. So, it’s really cool to see that.
“I don’t have a list or anything, but I really do like the coaches, and I really like the program. I’ve seen a lot of places come out of there and seen the success they’ve had.”
Rodriguez would like to commit before the start of his senior season in the fall, and the school that lands his commitment will be one that combines strong academics with energetic coaches and a family feel.
It will be important for Pitt to get Rodriguez on campus as many times as possible leading up to his commitment.