Robbie Rhodes ready for liftoff

UA All-American wants to prove he's the nation's top receiver

Updated: November 7, 2012, 5:06 PM ET
By Max Olson | ESPN RecruitingNation

Robbie Rhodes always knew deep down he could be this good some day.

He comes off as quiet and modest, but the Fort Worth (Texas) Southwest wide receiver was not surprised when folks started to move him up their recruiting rankings.

When he learned he was considered one of the top receiver prospects in the country, Rhodes was thankful. But he was never shocked.

Robbie Rhodes
Scott Drucker/IntersportBaylor commit Robbie Rhodes is rated the nation's No. 4 wide receiver in the ESPN 150.
"I always considered myself one of the nation's best wide receivers," he said. "I've always been thinking that and believing in that, and that made me perform that way."

That's what made Wednesday a special day for Rhodes. Accepting his jersey for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour means the Baylor commit is one step closer to being able to prove he's No. 1.

"Most people don't have this type of chance," Rhodes said, "so you've got to make the best of it. It's an opportunity to do your best and prove you're the best."

The nation's No. 4 receiver and No. 45 overall prospect in the ESPN 150 didn't make a name for himself by going to elite summer camps. In fact, he didn't start receiving serious interest from recruiters until his junior basketball season.

By then, though, they'd all heard about Robbie Rhodes. After what he did on Oct. 14, 2011, he never flew under the radar again.

On that night, in a victory over Fort Worth (Texas) Arlington Heights, Rhodes had a 68-yard touchdown reception. And then he added seven more, from 20, 53, 48, 74, 32, 41 and 29 yards.

Rhodes' eight touchdown catches tied a national record and broke the Texas state mark. His 394 receiving yards -- on only 10 catches, by the way -- also set a new state record.

Since then, Rhodes has set out to prove that one career night wouldn't define him.

"That probably raised expectations for me, but every game is different," he said. "That's just one game. You can't always get those types of opportunities to score that many touchdowns in a game. You've just got to play and let it happen."

That one game was certainly no fluke for the 6-foot-1, 185-pound wideout. He finished his junior season with 1,319 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns to earn district MVP honors.

This year has been no different: Rhodes has 715 receiving yards on only 24 receptions and leads his district with 19 total touchdowns. He's accounted for five scores as a Wildcat quarterback, too.

Between catches and carries, Rhodes is averaging 20 yards every time he touches the ball. And football isn't even his favorite sport.

Rhodes has always had a stronger affinity for basketball, where he plays the wing and put up 12.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for Southwest as a junior.

And then there's track, where he won gold medals in the 200-meter dash and 4x100 relay at the Texas state championship meet in May. All in all, well, it's been a good year for Rhodes.

And yet, he still gets the question: Why go to Baylor? Why turn down offers from Texas, TCU, Texas A&M and other more prominent programs?

His reasoning is simple. Rhodes will get to play right away in a pass-happy Art Briles offense and has a chance to follow in the footsteps of first-round NFL draft pick Kendall Wright and Big 12 leading receiver Terrance Williams.

He liked that the Bears offered a chance to play any receiver position, catch lots of passes and also run track in college. Still, he knows his choice probably came as a surprise to some.

"I'm pretty sure I probably did surprise people," Rhodes said. "I know everybody thinks most top recruits go to Texas and Oregon and all those big colleges with their uniforms and everything, but they didn't really catch my eye."

He's excited take those skills to Florida in January and see where they stack up. The nation's top four receiver prospects are slated to play in the Under Armour All-America Game.

Rhodes is ready to show everyone he belongs in that group.

"It's a chance to prove a bunch of things," he said. "I'm going to prove where I'm at and show people where I stand."

Max Olson | email

Big 12 reporter