October 4, 2022
"Changing Lives, Improving Communities"

Diamond in the Rough: Ronald Rhodes Jr.

Photo given to me by Ronald Rhodes.

Ronald Rhodes is a class of 2023 defensive lineman out of King’s Fork High School in Suffolk, Virginia. Standing at 6’2″ and weighing 220 pounds with a 2.8 GPA, the senior benches a 250 and squats a 500. Rhodes is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive line for the Bulldogs. Earlier this week, I had the chance to speak with Rhodes.

Q: Why do you play the game?
“I play the game because I love football. I’ve played since I was a kid, about seven, my parent’s pushed me to play, and I just fell in love with it.”

Q: Where do you see football going in your life?
“If I keep on doing what I’m doing… I can go to a good college. [To play] college ball somewhere is one of my dreams. Nobody in my family has played college football, and I can be the first person to do it. My coaches push me, my mom pushes me every day.”

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned playing football?
“To face adversity. It’s gonna be hard. When it gets hard, you just have to push through it… You can’t give up. I’ve learned that a lot [from] playing football.”

Q: What does football mean to you?
“It means a lot to me. If I weren’t playing football, I don’t know what I would be doing. I love playing football., [and the chance to play it] means a lot.”

Q: What challenges have you overcome so far in your football career?
“One of the challenges I’ve faced is being coachable. At first, when I came to King’s Fork, I feel like I was not really coachable. I would not listen to the things that the coach told me to do. Now, I’m coachable. When a coach tells me to do something, I do it.”

Q: What motivates you to keep playing football?
“My mom. I just want to make her proud. She pushes me… and she does what she can for me. I just want to make her proud.”

Q: How do you balance sports with your other responsibilities?
“I know school is first. I’ve just made it a routine [that I’ve created]. I just balance it. I’ve been doing everything.”

Q: Do you have a favorite football memory?
“My favorite was last year, winning that regional championship. I’ve never been a part of something like this. It’s a great feeling, and I want to do it again. We didn’t go to states, we came short last year, [but it was still great].”

Q: How do you stay trained and in football-shape during the offseason?
“I try to run a mile every day. I go to the YMCA, because I live up the street from one. I lift with some of the other players [that I live with], and as a football team we push each other. ”

Q: How are you looking to improve your game?
“I’m looking to have a better get-off and stamina. Focus, as well. [I need to get better with] thinking with my head, too.”

Q: On the other side, what is the strongest aspect of your game?
“I have a good, fast twitch. I can really get off a block. I feel like I can set an edge when I want to.”

Q: What are some goals you’ve set for yourself?
“I want to get 15 sacks, 30 tackles for loss, and to win the state championship. [Beyond this season,] I want to play college ball somewhere. ”

Q: Do you try to model your game after any players, pro or collegiate?
“Brian Burns with the Carolina Panthers. I watch him a lot. I like how he plays, how athletic he is. I like how he uses his body, and he’s got great hips. He can really set the edge.”

Q: What is your favorite part of playing that edge-rusher role?
“Knowing that I can get around a tackle, and I know that I’m fast, and [just be able to] do what the coach tells me to do. I also like to motivate my teammates and tell them to their best on the field, you can’t be scared.”

Q: Do you consider football to be more physically challenging, mentally challenging, or a bit of both?
“A bit of both. I feel like [football] is challenging at times, but it is football. It’s suppose to be hard. When it’s game time or practice, it’s suppose to be fun.”

Q: What is something you want your coaches – past, present, or future – to know about you?
“I’m coachable. If you tell me to do it, I won’t talk back. I’ll just do it. Additionally, I just love the game. I love playing football.”

You can view his highlights here.

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