Dalton Rodriguez always preferred defense.
The Tulsa Union senior, a member of The Oklahoman All-State team, committed to Oklahoma in early May as an offensive tackle. But midway through this season, he started to realize how much he really preferred to remain on the defensive side.
Recently, he changed his commitment to Tulsa, where he is expected to be a defensive end.
“I like attacking,” Rodriguez said. “I can't really protect. I like to hit the people, not trying to stop the people from hitting me. I don't know, it's just my mentality, I guess.”
It's a mentality that's worked out well for Tulsa Union during his tenure.
The Redskins won three straight state championships until this season when they lost to rival and eventual state champion Jenks in the semifinals.
“I think from last year's team to this year's team, a lot of key parts of last year's team they left so we had to fill key parts and I think we grew,” Rodriguez said. “We were good, but I don't know what happened; we fumbled up, I guess.”
Rodriguez, though, had a banner season, recording 79 tackles and nine sacks. He also came through in crucial moments, recording four sacks against Sand Springs and two against Jenks in the teams' first matchup.
“Just a couple of games were opportune times,” Tulsa Union coach Kirk Fridrich said. “I really feel like, of course you would have to ask opponents, but I really feel like that there were times where they had to know where he was.”
At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Rodriguez oftentimes has leverage few defensive ends possess, and that's what makes him special, according to Fridrich.
And his size projects well on both sides of the ball.
Tulsa Union, though, used him primarily on defense this season with the help of fellow Tulsa commit Blake Mejia moving from guard to tackle.
“I think that in our program we try to put the best guys on the field that we can,” Fridrich said. “Dalton has had a good career for us on the defensive line and to me I think his potential, we have just kind of scratched the surface.”