The Roundup’s end of spring rundown kicks off with a look at players from the one and true king, Southwest Conference, who are primed to pop this fall on a field near you. We call them Playmakers*, we hope by next December they’ll be household names. *This series has no affiliation with the dumpster fire ESPN series from the early 2000s.
How do you define “it”? That measure of juice between just a guy and a playmaker. Why do some guys seem to find themselves always around the ball, as if it’s their shadow? Mean Prudy Calderon. Whatever “it” is, Prudy’s got it. Let’s meet him.
The rising sophomore, former Rattler, from San Marcos erupted on the scene as a true freshman starting eight games in Mike Bloomgren’s rebuild at Rice. 5-11, 210 pounds of versatility and ball hawkish skills, Calderon ended the season leading the Owls with four picks, eleven passes defended and generally took the ball away from Owl opponent’s like they missed their rent.
A three-star recruit out of San Marvelous, Calderon played quarterback for Mark Soto’s Rattler teams. His senior year, Calderon accounted for 3,039 yards of total offense, 1,777 on the ground, 27 touchdowns, and a 10.1 yards per carry average. He earned district offensive MVP status and All-District on defense. Did we mention Prudy’s versatility? How about this, he was a powerlifter for four years at San Marcos and made Academic All-State.
All that production and flexibility led him to precisely three FBS offers. Rice, Texas State, and Army. Calderon instead, initially opted for Yale. When Bloomgren arrived in December of 2017, he made a bee-line to San Marcos and sold Calderon on the one commodity he add, aside from a world-class education, playing time.
Once Calderon showed up at Rice Village, he took Bloomgren up on that commodity. Bloomgren didn’t have a choice. A start into his college career, he picked off a pass against eventual conference champion UAB. He scooped up a fumble at Death Valley against LSU.
He stifled Louisiana Tech twice, near Rice’s goal line, with interceptions. The first pick, by the way, was open, the receiver was waiting to catch it, and strike up the fight song. Then Calderon closed like the ball was his shadow, stepped in front, killing Louisiana Tech’s buzz. The second pick, again into the paint, was late and inside, and the safety made them pay. When you look at the 28-13 final, a Bulldog win, know that Calderon blew up Louisiana Tech’s blowout.
Now Calderon and a young core of defensive players have an ownership interest in Brian Smith’s defense. If the Owls are going to have success, it’ll be because of players like Calderon and their “it” factor.