|James Rogers breaks up a pass to Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd.|
Coming out of high school in 2007 from Madison Heights, MI, Rogers was a mid-level recruit. He was a 3-star player, the #68 athlete, and the #27 player in Michigan, according to Rivals. Scout said he was a 4-star and the #17 safety in the country. I guess Rivals made the better evaluation here, since Rogers bounced back and forth between cornerback and wide receiver all four years. At no point did he play safety.
Rogers was a pretty dynamic offensive player in high school, so many assumed he would be a receiver. But he first appeared as a cornerback and special teamer, burning his redshirt for a small slice of playing time as a freshman in 2007. He ended the season with 6 tackles, 1 pass breakup, and 1 fumble recovery. When Rodriguez showed up and needed an influx of receivers for 2008, Rogers moved to that side of the ball. He started two games, making 3 receptions for 64 yards in addition to 2 special teams tackles. Rogers stayed at receiver into 2009, but when attrition took its toll on the cornerback position, he found himself back on defense and special teams, making 7 total tackles. A shortage of defensive backs continued and injuries mounted, which left Rogers on defense. So in a somewhat surprising turn of events, the high school running back/wide receiver-turned-cornerback-turned-receiver-turned-cornerback became a 13-game starter as a senior. He made 40 tackles, 3 interceptions (tied for the team lead), 3 pass breakups, and 2 tackles for loss throughout the year.
55 tackles, 4 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, 2 tackles for loss; 3 receptions, 64 yards
Rogers is a pretty good story. He’s the type of kid who stuck around for four years and never complained, even when it looked like he would never see the field. If it weren’t for the injury to Troy Woolfolk in the preseason, Rogers probably wouldn’t have played much this past year, except for spot duty and special teams. But he persevered and ended up as a 13-game starter. I always wished Rogers could stay at wide receiver and stop bouncing around, because I thought he had the speed and hands to be a decent wideout. But obviously he was needed at cornerback this past season, and he made an impact on that side of the ball.
Rogers was not invited to the NFL Combine but will likely work out at U of M’s upcoming pro day. He has excellent speed (witness his rundown of a Mississippi State running back in the Gator Bowl), but he’s not very smooth in the hips, he’s somewhat slow at diagnosing routes, and he’s not a great tackler. I would be very surprised if he plays football at the next level.
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