Texas offensive lineman Elijah Rodriguez practices at the Denius Fields on, March 29, 2018. Rodriguez missed much of the 2017 season with an ankle injury. AMANDA VOISARD / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

The Texas 22: Starting at right guard — Elijah Rodriguez

His 2017 season ended before it began, but he came back to start for Connor Williams in the bowl game and now has the starting gig at right guard.

Posted August 30th, 2018

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We’re breaking down Texas’ starting lineup, in alphabetical order on both sides.

Elijah Rodriguez

Senior offensive guard, 6-5, 305

High school: Houston Cypress Creek

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Signing class: 2014

Career games: 20

Career starts: 4

Who he was — before Texas

Rodriguez was a three-year starter at Cypress Creek. He chose Texas over 10 other offers in 2014. He was an underrated prospect in the class, ranking outside the top 1,000 on 247Sports. He was the 105th-ranked offensive tackle in the cycle. Rodriguez was originally committed to Colorado before he was talked into switching his commitment two days before signing day. He was a three-time all-district selection. He was the lowest-ranked player in Texas’ 2014 class.

Who Rodriguez has been here — so far

Rodriguez took a redshirt season in 2014 and then played sparingly as a redshirt freshman in 2015. He played in seven games as a sophomore in spot duty and on special teams. But his production grew in 2016, when he started three of the 12 games he played in. The 2017 season was finished before it began for Rodriguez; he suffered a season-ending injury in preseason camp. He returned for the bowl win against Missouri and started at left tackle for Connor Williams, who skipped that game to prepare for the draft.

Who Texas needs him to be this season

It speaks volumes about a player’s toughness and desire when he returns from an injury even when he doesn’t need to. Rodriguez sustained an ankle injury in August 2017 and needed surgery. He missed the entire regular season. But the Horns needed every available body for the bowl game, so he returned and started at left tackle.

Now a senior, Rodriguez will start at right guard but can be counted on to play any position out there if asked. That’s really all offensive line coach Herb Hand can ask for.

Filling in the lineup

So far …

THE OFFENSE

QB: Former Westlake star Sam Ehlinger was born to lead the Longhorns

RB —

WR: Legacy Longhorn Collin Johnson wants to put it all together

WR: He catches, he runs; Lil’Jordan Humphrey gives UT versatility

WR: Jerrod Heard’s journey to wide receiver has been a winding one

TE: Andrew Beck is eager to return from last year’s injury

LT: Calvin Anderson is back where he started (playing football in Austin)

LG —

C —

RG: Elijah Rodriguez has settled in on the right side of the line

RT: Derek Kerstetter may have arrived as a guard, but he’s a tackle now

THE DEFENSE

DE: Texas hopes Breckyn Hager can revert to the 2016 version of himself

DT: Chris Nelson, who signed alongside Poona Ford, now has Ford’s old starting spot

DL —

DE —

LB —

LB: Gary Johnson’s favorite destination spot? Wherever the ball is.

LB —

CB: Kris Boyd: Is the former Gilmer star ready to be UT’s alpha corner?

CB: Davante Davis gives Texas experience at the corner spot

NB: P.J. Locke III provides the Texas D with valuable experience

S: Brandon Jones enters Year 2 as a starter with defensive momentum

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