Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2021 DE Rodney McGraw Seeing Hard Work Lead To Major Offers

May 20, 2019

Elkhart Central (Ind.) defensive end Rodney McGraw‍ is quickly becoming a name to know in the 2021 recruiting class. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder received a few early offers from MAC programs, but in the last two weeks, Indiana and Purdue have offered the rising sophomore. 

Cody French is McGraw’s defensive coordinator and admitted he didn’t see this coming last summer. 

“A year ago at this time, I didn’t expect him to be a starter for us,” French told Irish Sports Daily. “His commitment to the weight room and learning how to play football has gotten him these opportunities. When people see him, he’s actually 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6. He’s not 6-foot-3 pretending to be taller. 

“His film speaks for itself. If we get coaches to watch his film, then they want to contact him.” 

McGraw has been blessed with athleticism and size, but work ethic has allowed his game to take off. The recent success hasn’t impacted him either as the Indiana native is more motivated than ever.

“He’s consistent,” stated French. “His attendance is never an issue. He shows up for everything and he got dramatically better over the summer. He didn’t start week one for us, but going into week two, he had a really good week of practice and started the game. I think he had six or seven tackles for loss and was in the backfield the whole game. He showed he was ready to play. 

“From that point on, he just got better and better. He gets better every week because he works hard.” 

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect about McGraw is he’s only scratching the surface as he’s only played two seasons of football. 

“He never played football before he came here from Chicago as a freshman,” explained French. “There weren’t bad habits to break and he’s so coachable. He knows what football can do for him and he wants to go as far as he can with football. He takes it seriously and does a good job of trusting us to put him in the right position.” 

McGraw isn’t one to run to the spotlight either. He has enjoyed seeing his work pay off with scholarships, but McGraw has remained the same kid within the football program despite his success.  

“We couldn’t have a better kid getting the attention,” said French. “It’s not just because he’s tall, but because he does the right things and what is asked of him. Other kids seeing what that leads to is the best thing for our program.

“He’s not a huge fan of attention. He’s a hard worker and keeps to himself. He’s a natural leader for us by leading by example. Rodney is shy when he meets you for the first time, but as he gets to know you and build a relationship, then he opens up. He’s a great kid with a great personality. He has a good sense of humor.” 

Off the field, McGraw has become a favorite within the walls of Elkhart Central as his peers and teachers respect the time he puts into the classroom. 

“The work ethic he has on the field carries over to the classroom,” French stated. “His grades have gone up since he’s been with us. If you talk to the teachers about him, Rodney is one of their favorite students. The whole school knows he has these offers, but he doesn’t act any different and does his work. The class work isn’t above him and the teachers appreciate that.”

French also remembered the first time he realized McGraw would be going to a Division I program.

“We took our team to Grand Valley State for camp last summer,” French recalled. “They are a really good Division II program. One of the coaches came up and asked us about Rodney. We told him he was a sophomore. The coach was like, ‘Oh, we’re never going to get the opportunity to recruit him.’ 

“If that guy was saying he was a Division I guy, then we knew he probably was a Division I guy.” 

The chance to coach McGraw has been a dream for French and the rest of the Elkhart Central staff, but they know it’s on them to make sure he continues to develop and reach his potential before heading to college. 

“It’s new territory for him and us,” said French. “We’re going to put him in position to be successful. We’ll probably do a couple of other things to showcase his strengths. He’ll play a couple different positions he hasn’t played before. We’ll build our defense around him and let him be successful.” 

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