He may not be the fastest runner you'll ever see, but West Catholic (Pa.) High senior Rodney Linder is sure of one thing: He's the biggest you'll find.
The offensive lineman, who weighs in at 275 pounds on an ample 6-foot frame, began running after he'd already established himself as one of his school's top shot-putters. With extra time at meets after he finished his shot-put throws, Linder was looking for another event to pick up, a quest which led him to the 100- and 200-meter sprints.
According to the Phildelphia Daily News, the senior harbors no illusions that he has a collegiate future on the track -- he jokingly says that his fastest time is maybe a 13.4-second 100-meter sprint -- but he's just as competitive on the track as he is the football field, taking pride and comfort in ensuring he never finishes last.
"I was kind of worried about finishing last the first time I ran. But I actually beat one other guy, so that made me feel good," Linder told the Daily News. "I can't say I've fallen in love with running, but I do like it. You have to run at practice anyway to stay in shape, so I figured I might as well do it [officially]. My teammates call me 'Big Rodney -- The Big Guy With the Good Feet.'"
Those good feet transfer smoothly to football, where Linder has been a harbinger of consistency for the past two seasons on West Catholic's beefy offensive line. The left tackle helped lead West Catholic to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA title.
The Burrs ran for a whopping 407 yards in their 50-14, Class AA title game blowout of South Fayette, and Linder and his linemates were a bit part of that enormous total.
"I really give props to coach Linc [West Catholic track coach Lincoln Townsend Jr., also a football assistant]. The work he has done with me in track has made me a much better football player. I would not be where I am without him."
That may be true, though the offensive lineman would never have turned so many heads if he hadn't been curious about what he could do with all of his extra time.
"You go to those meets, and they last about 3 hours and your part can be only 20 minutes," Linder told the Daily News. "It's too boring just sitting around. So, rather than do that, I decided to run the 100 and 200."