Quarterback draws crowd of coaches

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Spring football is becoming popular at Whitney High School. Monday’s practice attracted coaches from the University of Colorado, Nebraska, Washington State, Colorado State, UNLV and Kansas. Mike Gimenez’s players did nothing more than go through drills in shorts and T-shirts, but the college coaches in attendance did not seem to mind. They saw exactly what they came so far to see. One coach even used a small video device to capture the practice for future reference. It should come as no surprise that he aimed his device at quarterback Jake Rodrigues for the most part. Rodrigues is attracting attention from universities across the country. More will be on the way after the junior competed last week in an ESPN RISE Elite 11 Quarterback competition at Stanford. The camp was the fifth of six regional events. The sixth begins Friday in Columbus, Ohio. Once it ends, the top 11 quarterbacks will be selected for the televised national competition in July. The Elite 11 alumni list reads like a who’s who of NFL quarterbacks. Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Tim Tebow are among those who competed in the national competition. Rodrigues has yet to receive word whether he will be one of the 11. As he is hoping for an invitation, college coaches are flocking to Whitney to take a good long look at Rodrigues for themselves. “They’re aware of who he is. They know he’s one of the top guys out there,” Gimenez said. “They are coming out to meet him and see him in person. They want to see if he’s hustling and working hard. “Coaches have seen film of him, but everybody looks good in a highlight film. That’s what they call them highlights.” Gimenez is not concerned with the risk of all the attention inflating Rodrigues’ head. The coach is using the quarterback as an example of how hard work can pay off in scholarship opportunities. “We remind the kids that this is the result of hard work and all the practices,” Gimenez said. “If they don’t continue down the path, if they don’t work hard, things like this are not going to happen. “Jake knows that. When he gets to college, there’s going to be 100 really good players. He’s going to have to work even harder if he wants to play at the next level. We keep that in the back of his mind.”