Three-star offensive tackle Arturo "A.J." Rodriguez (6-5, 300, 5.3) from Las Vegas, Nev., has had a change of heart. After committing to New Mexico back in December he has decided that another destination would be a better fit.
"I decided yesterday to go to UNLV," Rodriguez said. "New Mexico has a great program and Rocky Long is a great coach but I started thinking that I wanted to play closer to home."
"I started to think that maybe I didn't want to live in Albuquerque for four to five years," Rodriguez said. "Albuquerque is a great town but so is Las Vegas and Las Vegas is home."
"Now I will be able to play in front of family and friends," Rodriguez said. "I also wanted to play for new UNLV coach Mike Sanford."
"Coach Sanford will demand and accept nothing but your best," Rodriguez said. "I think I will be part of something special at UNLV."
"It will also be nice reuniting with my former high school coach (Kris) Cinkovich," Rodriguez said. "Good things are going to happen at UNLV and I want to be part of it."
Besides UNLV Rodriguez had offers from San Diego State, Utah, Colorado State, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Oregon State.
Rodriguez went into the 2004 season rated by Rivals.com as the Silver State of Nevada's second rated prospect as any position and he did not disappoint.
In an earlier interview with Rivals.com Las Vegas coach Chris Faircloth said had this to say about his top-flight offensive lineman, "What separates A.J. from the rest is he has a real mean streak. He plays offense with a defensive linemen's mentality."
"A.J. is a great finisher of blocks," Faircloth said. "He is relentless in finding another opponent once he knocks his first man is down."
"A.J. is a monster on the line and can't keep him out of the weight room," Las Vegas offensive line coach Art Plunkett said. "He could be the best lineman we have had in my eight years as an assistant coach here."
High praise indeed, the reason Plunkett's statement is so powerful is that his own son Richie Plunkett was an all-state and all-region offensive tackle a year ago for Las Vegas high. Plunkett's son signed with the Colorado Rams last February.
Plunkett should know about offensive linemen he played in a super bowl with the New England Patriots. He also played for the Los Angeles Rams and the St. Louis Cardinals after standing out for UNLV.