PFB - Malcolm Rodriguez Moves to Linebacker, Tre Sterling Replaces Him at Safety

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Greenhorn
Feb 17, 2018
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STILLWATER — There were a couple of interesting revaluations on the depth chart the Cowboys released Friday, but none were as interesting as Malcolm Rodriguez’s move to linebacker.

Rodriguez started 10 games last season at safety, but with injuries thinning an already thin linebacker group in fall camp, the decision was made to move Rodriguez up in the defense. He is listed at 6-feet, 205 pounds, but at his media luncheon Friday, OSU coach Mike Gundy said he thinks Rodriguez is somewhere between 212 and 215.

The big question for any safety-turned-linebacker is size. Rodriguez’s listed weight of 205 would make him the third lightest linebacker on the team, only bigger than freshmen Na’drian Dizadare and Kamryn Farrar, both listed at an even 200. If Rodriguez is closer to 215, that’s the same weight Calvin Bundage is listed at.

“If you were gonna draw one up, you’d want him at 225 and be able to run like (Rodriguez) does,” Gundy said. “His agility and speed will be a big advantage for him there. His size could be an issue. We’ll see how it works. A lot of the game now is played side to side. It’s not played straight ahead, so that allows him to come down and help us out a little bit at that position.”

“When they are as quick as he is, he can duck them, too. You have a 300-pound guy coming after him, I would highly recommend not letting him get his hands on you.”

Bundage had a back injury that had him limited for much of fall camp. On Tuesday, Gundy said Bundage had been medically cleared and would get some work against Oregon State, but it was uncertain how much. Devin Harper has dealt with a lower-body injury (foot or ankle) this fall, and he was left off the two-deep altogether.

Rodriguez never was much of a cover safety at OSU. His game focused more on tackling and coming downhill, anyway. He is the team’s leader in returning tackles from 2018 with 83 last season with only one pass breakup.

“We’ve had a few guys get dinged up, so we needed some depth there,” Gundy said. “His body’s bigger now, so he was able to move down. To a certain extent, what they do is a lot like the position he was playing anyway. He was the guy who was a good fit for us to move down to that position.”

With Rodriguez leaving his post at safety, that made room for Tre Sterling, who was listed among starting safeties with Jarrick Bernard and Kolby Harvell-Peel.

Sterling was the 84th-ranked safety in the 2017 class. Out of Sunnyvale, Texas, Sterling redshirted in 2017. He played in every game last season, with the majority of his work coming on special teams. His only two tackles to this point in his young career came in the Liberty Bowl.

“He’s done well,” Gundy said. “He had a great summer. He kind of grew up. When he arrived, he wasn’t very physical, little bit soft, wasn’t disciplined. I didn’t know if college football was going to be for him. Made a big change. He’s showing that he wants to play. He’s kind of turned the corner. He’s intelligent. He’s gonna get to play quite a bit.”



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