This chance mattered more to R.J. Roderick, perhaps more than most.
The South Carolina commit was a late add to the Shrine Bowl roster. A back injury had seemed season-ending but turned out not to be. His addition was a better-late-than-never moment, and it could have a key impact on his game.
Roderick spent most of his high school days on offense, transitioning to defense in his last year and most heavily after the injury. That was only a few games, but he'll be expected to work at safety in Columbia. So his abbreviated week and game Saturday will provide something of high value: competitive work at his new spot and work against top-flight opponents.
"I'm playing against some of the best players in the state, best players in the country," Roderick said. "I went against Derion Kendrick. I've never seen somebody that's so smooth. Bryce Thompson, I'm playing against him, that's like my brother now.
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"This is the best of the best. So just coming out here and getting reps, winning reps is a good thing."
Kendrick would be the four-star Clemson commit who dominated Shrine Bowl practices. Thompson is the dynamic Dutch Fork athlete who just committed to USC.
The call came late for Roderick.
He had just about made peace with the fact he wouldn't be a Shrine Bowl player. He thought a stress fracture in his back had ended his senior season, so he'd called Cross coach Shaun Wright, a coach he trained with who was on the Shrine Bowl staff, and said he couldn't go.
Only he got cleared to play at the end of his high school season. He reached out to Wright, but it seemed the window had closed. And then, on Tuesday, he got word he'd be headed to Spartanburg.
"It's exciting, just to be placed back where you belong," Roderick said. "Coach Wright, they were all on my side in the summertime. They trained me.
"I just stayed focused, stayed faithful and I'm back here."
Roderick ran for more than 1,700 yards as a junior, and in the course of a senior season which he missed half of, he posted 354 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns, plus at least one interception and several pass breakups on defense.
He'll sign Wednesday and join USC for the spring, and he thinks that could benefit as he grows into a full-time defender.
"Coming into the spring, you can take things slower," Roderick said. "So I'll be able to digest the playbook on my own time, learn, ask questions."