At bet365, we don’t do ordinary.
And neither does Washington Commanders running back Chris Rodriguez Jr.
After being drafted in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL draft, Rodriguez faced an uphill battle to make the Commanders’ 53-man roster. He needed to make an impression on his coaches and teammates in the preseason to tip the scales in his favor.
Rodriguez did just that.
The University of Kentucky graduate logged 17 rushes for 122 yards (7.2 yards/carry) across three preseason games, an impressive clip that caught the attention of head coach Ron Rivera. In turn, Rodriguez Jr. was rewarded with a spot on the 53-man roster.
“When you see those combination of those three things, of being able to run the ball, being able to catch the ball, and then protecting, that's a huge plus. So, he's done and grown with the things that we want him to,” Rivera said in a Sports Illustrated article from August 30.
Through Week 12, Rodriguez (24 rushes, 125 yards) is one of seven rookie backs to average 5+ yards per carry on 20+ carries, finding his name alongside other standout rookie performers like De’Von Achane, Jahmyr Gibbs and Bijan Robinson.
Rodriguez is not only the first member of his family to reach the NFL or play Division I college football. He’s the first member of his family to attend college.
“Not only was I the first one to go, but I was the first one to graduate,” Rodriguez said.
“I got a lot of cousins, a lot of younger nieces and nephews that really look up to me. To do that, I feel like it makes me unordinary.”
Rodriguez became a star in five years at Kentucky, finishing as the program’s second all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (33) and third in rushing yards (3,643). A two-time team captain during his college career, Rodriguez helped the Wildcats to a fourth-straight bowl victory at the 2022 Citrus Bowl.
In May 2022, he graduated from Kentucky with a degree in community and leadership development.
“I made it here, I can’t just make it here and not finish,” Rodriguez said about getting his degree. “That’s one of the things me and my mom talked about, she was like, ‘Yo, get that degree.’ ‘Yes ma’am.’”