|3*, #94 OLB
||3*, #26 OLB
||3*, 78, #29 OLB
I'm a bit surprised that the recruiting sites list Rogers as an OLB, because it seems to be generally accepted to Michigan fans (and many analysts) that he'll primarily play with his hand down. Rivals's Greg Ladky took in a Harding scrimmage and evaluated Rogers like so:
Rogers is still pretty skinny, but is clearly athletic and very rangy. He showed some agility on a short catch a reaching up the field for a 10-yard gain. He needs to improve against the run and increase his aggressiveness in taking on blockers, but as he fills in his frame, he could be a monster off the edge. He will be fun to watch develop at the college level.
Ladky seems to think he's destined for defensive end as well, and ESPN thinks that, with some weight room work, he could be a special one:
Rogers has the chance to a very special player at the next level because of his natural tools. He has exceptional height for a safety or outside linebacker but could gain some weight and be a dominating rush end on defense. Flows, closes and has very good range for such a tall player.
His coach also talked to the Charleston Daily Mail back when he was a West Virginia commit, and gave glowing reviews (H/T UMGoBlog):
"He'll run down things from behind," Harding Coach D.J. Dota said. "If it's run at him, he pretty much destroys it. He's probably our best defensive player and our defense is pretty good. He's just been all over the field. He has that knack to find the football. We've asked him to do a bunch of different things this year and he's done a great job understanding what he needs to do for us,'' Dota said. "He's made a lot of great plays for us.
"He's a great blitzer off the edge. Really, anything you ask him to do he does really well because of his athletic ability, which is really shocking because of his height. He plays really fast."
Dota said once Rogers fills out his frame in the weight room, the sky is the limit.
"I think he can play at the next level - the NFL,the Harding coach said. "I think his game will only improve. His game has improved some much in a year. The mental knowledge, he understands what's going on around him."
The Destruction of All Runs is a trait that the unbiased sources don't attribute to him, so at the very least, that part may be his coach blowing hot air. HIs versatility and athletic ability, on the other hand, are apparent to seemingly everyone. From the same article, Rogers describes his own game:
"I've got the feet of a safety, I hit like a linebacker and the size of a defensive end," said Rogers in summing up his talents. "I get to the ball. No matter what I'm going to get to the ball. I'm determined to get to that ball.
Those positive reviews, are mostly backed up by third-party evaluators. It seems as though his largest upside is at defensive end (or maybe hybrid OLB/DE), but for what it's worth when Rogers committed to West Virginia they planned on playing him somewhere in the back seven, maybe even in the secondary(!):
Despite being as tall as the average defensive lineman, the coaches at West Virginia have narrowed their options to put Rogers at linebacker, or possibly in the secondary with Dorsey.
"They like me at linebacker, but they might look into playing me as a strong safety," Rogers said. "I'll do whatever they ask me to do. I just want to be able represent myself the best way that I can. I'm looking forward to any opportunity that they give me to play. I'm very excited."
The main reason for his low rankings despite the potential is the fact that he's a tweener right now. He weighs as much as a safety but projects as a defensive end or outside linebacker, which means he won't contribute right away.
He is reminiscent of Shawn Crable, though he might [ed: must] have thicker legs and is starting out of high school at much lower weight (205 or less against Crable's 230ish). Buckeye Planet has a Harding insider named "Worm02" who cites Crable in his assessment of Rogers' talent:
Last year was Rogers' first year playing varsity and the only thing that he played was OLB. Obviously, when you're dealing with a kid that tall, you can imagine him playing DE at the next level, so there are a lot of possibilities, but I could see Rogers' current frame being suitable for OLB. At this point, I won't say that he is better than Shawn Crable was in HS (that dude was a BEAST at Massillon!), but that's another tall guy who played OLB in college. Then again, Lamarr Woodley was a LB in high school who bulked up and moved down to DE in college, and he wasn't nearly as tall. That's a big dude though (he came to Warren with Prescott Burgess a couple times). Speaking of Burgess, he was a standout at SS in HS who played OLB in college and does so now for the Baltimore Ravens, and he was 6'4 at Harding. Davion is 6'6, but Burgess had a much bigger frame.
Though all three recruiting services give him three stars, Scout is the outlier in terms of ranking, as both other sites have him in the top 30 OLBs, on the cusp of four stars. Rivals has him one slot above OLB/DE tweener, almost-commit, and future Seminole Holmes Onwukaife, FWIW, so any complaints about that recruitment have been effectively mooted.
Rogers had a very early offer from Michigan State and then got one from West Virginia that he immediately snapped up. As such, information on who has been recruiting Rogers is sparse. Articles about committed recruits don't really talk about other offers until that recruit is soft, and Rogers has only been soft for a couple weeks.
He also received interest from regional non-BCS teams, including offers from Ohio University, and Toledo. Pittsburgh showed him interest, but never offered.
From the same article as above, Rogers accrued the following stats through 8 games:
Rogers, who has earned a three-star rating (out of five) from Scout.com, has 55 tackles, seven sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble and fumble recovery for a touchdown this season for Warren G. Harding (5-3).
HOWEVA, Harding was never 5-3 on the year, as they tied their first game against East Cleveland Shaw, and finished the year before that article, with a record of 6-3-1 in 10 games. Take those stats as a rough approximation of his production this year.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists his 40 time as 4.6, and that's the only source I can find a reported time. For a future defensive end, that's pretty low, but as a guy who sounds like he could play safety if he wasn't so tall, it's not so ridiculous. I'll split the difference, and give it just two FAKEs out of five.
Rogers, like most Ohio prospects, has video available from ScoutingOhio:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Rogers has a lot of athletic potential but is not college-ready at this point. He has a lot of physical maturing to do. Even if he is to stay at linebacker, he needs to add 25 to 40 pounds. More likely, he'll be a pass-rushing DE, probably from the quick position, a la Craig Roh. That would require even more weight being added, but fortunately—and unlike Roh—he's not being called upon to contribute right away.
Rogers will definitely redshirt. In that year he'll hopefully be able to add tons and tons of muscle, possibly getting into the 230-pound range. As a redshirt freshman, he will probably contribute on some special teams, perhaps as the Brandon Graham-style Designated Punt Blocker. Unless more defensive ends emerge, he may be called upon for spot duty in pass-rush situations as well.
As a redshirt sophomore, he'll back up a senior Craig Roh, or even grow enough (remember, he's 6-6 and only 200 pounds) to move to the strongside defensive end position, where he would be a backup as well. As a redshirt junior and senior, he should be a full-time starter.
Given his coach's (and the scouts') evaluations of his talent, he could develop into an NFL player, so All-Conference distinctions when he reaches a starting role are not out of the question.
[Editor's note: I wouldn't put it past Rogers to stay at linebacker for a bit given the composition of the roster. Shawn Crable was an enormous chicken-legged linebacker for most of his time at Michigan and only moved down to defensive end permanently as a senior. Rogers seems like a good fit at the weakside linebacker spot currently occupied by Jonas Mouton, and that spot will be open when Rogers is presumably coming off his redshirt year. Long term, though, Shawn Crable was the world's most perfect fit for the deathbacker spot and this guy is Shawn Crable 2.0.]
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Rogers is technically commitment #25 for the class, but is more likely #24 given the likelihood that Tony Drake does not end up in Ann Arbor. OH LB Jake Ryan just committed and is #25. Rich Rodriguez said yesterday that they will be able to enroll 26 players in the fall, so that leaves one more slot assuming there's no further attrition from the recruiting class.
With a true pass-rusher (finally) in the fold, safety is most pressing concern. Sean Parker, Rashad Knight, and maybe even Demar Dorsey (who visited over the weekend) are the possibilities. Another possibility: Michigan could grab both Parker and Knight if there is a decommit or someone does not look likely to qualify.
EDITOR-APPENDED BIT AT THE END THAT ISN'T IRONIC BUT IS THE SORT OF THING YOU WANT TO CALL IRONIC DESPITE ITS LACK OF IRONY
Rogers grew up a huge Ohio State fan to the point where the first article on him from Bucknuts was summarized like so by Buckeye Planet: