Wait is over for Dalton Rodriguez

TULSA -- Toward the end of last week, Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa, Okla./Union) looked at the letters from the many schools that are recruiting him. Letters from schools like Clemson, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Arizona State. Letters that seemingly had no end in sight.

Rodriguez, like so many other top recruits, couldn't go on Facebook without being inundated with messages from assistant coaches from various programs. He realized it wasn't going to stop anytime soon.

Unless he did something about it. He talked it over with his family and told his father he was ready to end the process. A 6-foot-6, 255-pound offensive tackle, Rodriguez did just that when he announced his commitment to Oklahoma last Saturday afternoon.

Rodriguez notified OU coaches Bob Stoops and Bruce Kittle on Friday. And judging from their reaction, he knew he had made the right choice.

"I wanted them to know early because there were some rumors," Rodriguez said. "They were real happy. Coach Stoops was excited because he said the team is thin on tackles."

Some schools viewed Rodriguez as a defensive end, but the OU coaches were consistent about seeing Rodriguez as an offensive tackle despite the fact he hasn't played the position in high school.

The position is a major need for the Sooners' 2013 class. It is expected that OU will sign at least three tackles for the class and Rodriguez is the first to pledge to the Sooners and the sixth overall commitment.

Rodriguez has a lot of family on the West Coast, and he was genuinely interested in Arizona and Arizona State but that changed during a visit to Oklahoma for its junior day.

He didn't have an offer, but he had a new favorite.

"I felt real comfortable there. I knew that was where I wanted to go. All the coaches talked to me and were real friendly," Rodriguez said. "It was just a bonus that it's in-state."

OU wasn't the first in-state program to jump on Rodriguez. In fact, the Sooners were the last to start recruiting him. Tulsa wasn't just the first in-state school to offer Rodriguez, the Golden Hurricane was the first school period.

The offer from Tulsa helped Rodriguez get on the radar of some other schools. Tulsa defensive ends coach Adam Blankenship is a former Tulsa Union assistant and coached Rodriguez his sophomore season. And suddenly, Rodriguez went from being a relative unknown to a hot commodity across the midlands and west coast regions.

It all culminated when OU came calling last week and offered him last Monday. Rodriguez knew he was about to make his dream come true.

"I think I was ready right there, but I wanted to wait a few days to make sure and figure everything out," Rodriguez said. "But I think I knew the entire time."

Rodriguez is getting a lot of reps at offensive tackle during spring workouts. The position has been an adjustment to Rodriguez, but for somebody with his work ethic, that's not a problem.

"I think he can easily play both positions," Tulsa Union coach Kirk Fridrich said. "You can't teach his size.

"He is so athletic. You see a lot of kids that are big or that are fast, but he's big and can run real well. And his work ethic is incredible. He has put so much work in since the end of last season to make himself a better player."

Rodriguez is still slated to play defensive end during his senior season. He is fine with that, but he's also happy to get as much time as he can re-learning the tackle position. Rodriguez hasn't played offense since junior high, and he said the techniques are a lot different than on defense.

There are a lot more plays to learn, too.

"I'm definitely learning, but that's a good thing," Rodriguez said. "On defense, there is like eight plays. Here? There are like more plays than I can even remember.

"Every rep is helping make me better. Every drill helps. I know I don't have the experience, but I'm not scared of working hard."