Athlete of the week: Jalen Rhodes


Rhodes stiff arms his way past a defender. Chase Otero/The Paisano

Frankie Leal

Since he first arrived on the scene in 2015, UTSA running back, Jalen Rhodes, has impressed fans with his dazzling cuts and explosiveness out of the backfield. Throughout the course of his career at UTSA, Rhodes has compiled an impressive stat line with 17 touchdowns on 1,728 rushing yards and 343 receiving yards, along with two receiving touchdowns. With the departure of many offensive weapons, such as Dalton Sturm and Josh Stewart, Rhodes will become a focal point of UTSA’s offense this coming season. Standing at 5’9”, Rhodes isn’t necessarily physically imposing, but make no mistake – he is a star.

At an early age, Rhodes was interested in basketball rather than football, and didn’t start playing football until the fourth grade. “I started playing in the fourth grade because I couldn’t play basketball that year,” Rhodes said. “Twhen everybody started growing throughout the years and I didn’t. Football just fit my build better, so I stuck with it.”

Rhodes hails from the small town of Rowlett, Texas, just outside of Dallas where he attended Rowlett High School. “I would rate my high school football experience as the best football experience I’ve ever had,” Rhodes said. “There was just a type of bond that you can’t create anywhere else.” In his junior year of high school, Rhodes rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and racked up 22 touchdowns on the ground. Rhodes was poised and ready to have a monster senior season but unfortunately, he went down with an injury early in the season and missed the rest of his senior year.

Rhodes was not committed to UTSA at first, but after his injury, the school he had committed to attending revoked his scholarship offer, while UTSA didn’t. “UTSA stuck by me throughout my recruiting process. Even when I had comwmitted to another school they were always there, so I felt like they were genuine when they said they wanted me, so this is where I decided to come,” Rhodes said. If it weren’t for his injury, Rhodes more than likely would not have ended up at UTSA.

Off the football field, Rhodes has a degree in communication, and he has quite a few career aspirations. “I want to get into coaching, but I don’t know at what point in my life I want to do that yet,” Rhodes said. “I want to work with underprivileged youth in urban areas and be a mentor to them, and, somewhere down the line, own my own training facility,” Rhodes said. “I have a lot of ideas, I just have to form it all together – it’s coming though.” 

When Rhodes isn’t consumed by football, he enjoys cooking. Believe it or not, Rhodes claims to be quite the chef. “I’m somewhat of a seafood connoisseur,” Rhodes said. “I’m still learning and getting recipes from my mom and grandma, and stuff like that, but I’m working on it. I’m going to be a great husband one day,” Rhodes said with a smile. Aside from seafood, Rhodes says he knows his way around the barbecue pit and can also make a good pot of spaghetti. It turns out Rhodes can barbecue both meat and opposing defenses. 

Another hobby that Rhodes enjoys is listening to music. “I can spend hours scrolling through and downloading music from all types of genres,” Rhodes said. Rhodes loves all types of music, but his favorite genre is R&B. As a matter of fact, music plays a key factor in pre-game rituals for Rhodes. “When I wake up in the morning on game days my first two songs I hear have to be ‘Never Would Have Made It’ by Marvin Sapp and ‘In The Midst of It All’ by Yolanda Adams. These two songs, combined with his game day breakfast of bacon and toast, make up his game-day ritual.

As he heads into his senior year, Rhodes says his favorite part about playing for UTSA has simply been the people. “I love the people in this city, I’ve never been surrounded by this much love from people who don’t even know me,” Rhodes said, “I just absolutely love the nice people of San Antonio and I really appreciate them.”

“Football has taught me a lot of things in life,” Rhodes said. “It’s taught me how to carry myself as a man and it’s really given me structure in my life. It’s more than a game and it’s something that builds a lot of your character. It’s a brotherhood.” As a young man with a good head on his shoulders, Rhodes is not only poised for success for this football season but in life as well.

Rhodes and the UTSA football team begin their season on Sept. 1 against Arizona State; however, be sure to catch the Roadrunners in action for their home game opener against Baylor on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Alamodome.