Gardena Serra’s Rodrick Pleasant commits to Oregon for football and track
An hour after Gardena Serra High’s Rodrick Pleasant announced his college commitment Wednesday morning, a crowd of friends and family gathered around him in the school gym, a whirlwind of interviews and pictures having finally settled.
It was time to eat cake. For this was not only a triumphant look into the future for one of the best two-sport athletes in the nation, it was also his 18th birthday. So Pleasant gathered onlookers around a cake sitting on the podium, took a knife and cut a small piece.
“I’m going to show y’all what my heart said,” Pleasant said.
The inside was Oregon green.
After deliberation that had Pleasant stressed and on the phone with Serra football coach Scott Altenberg for hours Tuesday night, the highly regarded defensive back chose the Ducks over USC and UCLA.
“It was mainly about the relationships. … I felt like a priority,” Pleasant said, when asked why he chose Oregon over the local programs. “I felt like I was something special.”
Pleasant’s drive was clear the moment he came to Serra in the spring of his freshman season, Altenberg said. He’s excelled as a corner, special teams-returner and occasional spot receiver despite injury issues his junior season, and led Serra with four interceptions this past year.
But his most impressive achievement comes on the track, where he broke the California state wind-legal record for the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.14 seconds his junior year. Pleasant will play football and run track at Oregon — a rare commitment in the time of youth specialization.
It’s a continuation of a dual-sport journey that started since he was little, said his mother, Mikessa Davis. “He didn’t like the workouts,” she said. “But he liked being fast.”
Pleasant’s track background has made him a better football player, Altenberg said.
“He comes out, and he’s this guy with all this speed,” Altenberg said Tuesday. “But it’s like, ‘Are you a track guy or a football guy?’ And I think he stepped into it.
“He did a great job saying, ‘This is who I am, I can do both.’”
If Pleasant had any desire to make an Olympic team in track one day, Serra track coach Christopher Mack said, Oregon would be the school: The men’s track team has won 15 straight Pac-12 titles.
But before he becomes a Duck, Pleasant has one final season of track left with Serra. And as the gym cleared, the tears stopped and the cake was cut, one final question remained.
When meets roll around this spring and Pleasant steps to the line for the 100-meter dash again, just how fast can he go?
“I would love to see him break 10 [seconds] this year … if he does that, that’d be insane,” Davis said.
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