|Warren, OH - 6'6" 210|
|Scout||3*, #102 OLB|
|Rivals||3*, #28 OLB, #18 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #29 OLB|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, West Virginia|
|YMRMFSPA||Shawn Crable except skinnier|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post.|
|Notes||Warren G. Harding also produced Mario Manningham, Prescott Burgess, and classmate DJ Williamson.|
Linebacker Davion Rogers was another late pickup recruitniks were given little warning on. A longtime WVU commitment, Rogers went from totally off the radar to visiting to committed in the span of a few days, leaving West Virginia grasping (again: by that point Michigan had already pirated Pahokee DE/DT Richard Ash from the Mountaineers; the two defections were part of a disastrous post-Doc-Holliday-departure decommit binge) and Michigan fans scrambling to figure out how a high school linebacker could be skinnier than Shawn Crable. As of press time, this was still under investigation.
No, seriously. The 6'6" 210 you see above is the approximate mean of all the listed heights and weights I found, and it may significantly understate how close a resemblance there is between Rogers and a space elevator. When Greg Ladky took in Harding's 10-7 loss against St. Ignatius and Jake Ryan, he noted the roster listed him at 6'7"(!) and 190 pounds(!!!). Do not take this man parasailing. He will not land.
As you might expect when the topic is a 6'7" stick of a linebacker, Rogers sounds an awful lot like Shawn Crable. Worm02, a guy who has hung around the internet talking about WGH players for years now, makes the direct comparison to the former Massillon flightless bird:
When you see his height, you think of Shawn Crable. Davion is very good, but I think that SC was better in high school. I'll never forget when Massillon came to WGH in '02, When we (Harding fans) saw Crable, we just said "Wow!" Back then, Crable weighed a good 25-30 pounds more than DR does now, and he was every bit as good as he was hyped up to be. …
Anyway, Davion has definitely come a long way. Last year, he got his offers based on potential, but this past season, I can honestly say that he played like a guy that was going to play major college football. He reacts quickly, flies to the ball well, plays to the end regardless of the outcome, etc. He's a guy that college coaches can do a lot with because of what he brings to the table. With his frame, I expect him to stay at linebacker, but WVU was actually looking at him as a possible safety.
ESPN, as they are wont to do sometimes, marries a good but not great rating with a panting evaluation. In the process they do not actually say "Crable," but they don't have to:
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. Looks like a basketball player in cleats and displays toughness and good football savvy. Keeps leverage on the football when filling from the inside out. Uses hands well to shed blockers and get to the football. Could be a better knee bender but sinks his hips pretty well when making the hit. Excellent on the outside blitz demonstrating the ability to get off the ball quickly and has a burst when coming off the edge. Often sacks the quarterback or flushes him out of the pocket; shows the ability to chase the ball down from behind. Long arms are a big asset in keeping blockers off his body and wrapping up ball carriers. Rogers is very athletic for a man of his height with good speed and quickness.
That is almost exactly Crable. Crable had 30 pounds on Rogers (and still looked like a man with chicken legs) coming out of high school and therefore was a lot easier to project on the college level; other than that admittedly sizeable (HA!) difference these men are clones. His coach did not get the memo, unfortunately, choosing to compare Rogers to former Michigan linebacker Prescott Burgess, also a WGH alum:
“He always seems to come up with a play when you need one, it just happens. And that’s kind of how Prescott was as a junior. He was kind of banged up his senior year, but when he did get to play it just seemed like he made a play when you needed it. He had natural instincts.” …
"Athletically he's ready. He’s a pretty explosive player, has great knee bend. There’s a lot of great things to say about him."
In another article that Tim cited in Rogers's commitment post now lost down the newspaper archive memory hole, Dota's praise is even higher:
"He'll run down things from behind. 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. …
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. … I think he can play at the next level - the NFL 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."
Even traditionally dour local evaluator Magnus gets on board:
Watching film of him, Rogers has incredible physical talent. The most impressive thing about him is his speed. He's able to catch up to skill players from behind. His wingspan also helps him latch onto and wrap up players who might be out of a shorter player's reach. Once he gains strength, that wingspan should also afford him the ability to keep offensive tackles out of his chest.
Concerns are expressed about pursuit angles and his tendency to reach while tackling, but those are things that will get fixed as Rogers packs on pounds during his prep year or two.
Those weaknesses do indicate the main area in which Rogers needs to improve. As you might imagine, he has some difficulty playing the run since blockers can get into his midsection so easily. More from Rivals on that game against St. Igs:
STRENGTHS: Very good lateral movement for a 6-foot-6 prospect. Rogers is a force as a pass rusher and uses his length to make it difficult for ball carriers to get around him. St. Ignatius' quarterback Mark Myers was able to avoid sacks all night, except when Rogers was breathing down his neck.
WEAKNESSES: Rogers needs to be more physical taking on blockers, then shedding those blocks to make tackles.
Ladky's preseason evaluation also mentions the deficiency when taking on blockers coming at him:
Rogers is still pretty skinny, but is clearly athletic and very rangy. … 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.
That will also be something Michigan works on.
Other evaluations are similar. Lemming says he is "tall and athletic" and "showed a lot of speed on the edge" while using his "long arms to his advantage when disengaging from the OT." JJ Huddle ranked him 29th in the state before his strong senior year, calling him a "a tall long-armed defender that has huge upside and growth potential" who is "fluid enough to drop back in coverage" and can rush off the edge. Ohio Varsity analyst Mike Parris notes the obvious redshirt stuff and then says he could be the proverbial "special talent."
The downside: Scout was way less enthused than the other two sites but that appears to be based on little. His profile shows a total of three stories on him, and a site search turns up nothing except articles from GBW and the WVU site. No one who had a say in rankings had anything to say about him the whole year. Since the WVU ESPN affiliate had to prod ESPN into watching the guy's tape, maybe Rogers managed to slide under the radar. How, I don't know. I'd expect people to take note of a 6'6" linebacker. Obviously he avoided the combine circuit.
After all that, Rogers's recruitment was abbreviated by an early commitment to West Virginia. He had a Michigan State offer at that point as well. His commitment and some questionable grades (about which more later) saw his recruitment go dead. Prior to his visit to Michigan he was not even known to be a soft commit, and his immediate switch prevented anyone else from getting involved. Due to the grade issues and the early commit, offers aren't a great metric here.
At Michigan, Rogers will be an outside linebacker until such time as he outgrows the position and slides into Craig Roh's current role as a LB/DE hybrid. West Virginia was actually thinking about him as as safety:
"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."
That likely won't happen at Michigan but it speaks well of his physical abilities. As does Rogers himself from the same article:
"I've got the feet of a safety, I hit like a linebacker and the size of a defensive end. I get to the ball. No matter what I'm going to get to the ball. I'm determined to get to that ball."
Rogers is a high ceiling guy with a very long way to go, a quintessential boom-or-bust type. The two sites above that have him around #30 nationally as an OLB are ranking him fairly—with so much projection required it's hard to justify higher placement—but Rogers is the kind of guy who can be a star on a great defense. Michigan does not have many of those at linebacker of late.
Brief but necessary grade section. So this is kind of a hilarious dig at one of Michigan's rivals and their quasi-rival:
Rogers said he committed to West Virginia over Michigan State early in the recruiting process because “my grade situation, it was looking bad,” and he didn’t know what other offers he’d receive.
Unfortunately, that dig is a little unsettling given the issues with Antonio Kinard and Demar Dorsey. FWIW, Webb said he had confirmed that everyone else was good to go, and Worm02 notes that Rogers has picked it up now that he knows what's on the line:
I'm definitely going to be on him about how he goes about handling his business as he prepares for the next level, but lately he's been doing a pretty good job of doing what he has to do. I'm definitely excited for him.
So he's qualified but it sounds like he might be a little marginal. His coach says "I just hope that when he gets there he takes on what he needs to do, and I think he will" in the Birkett article linked above.
Why Shawn Crable? Obvious.
Etc.: West Virginia decommit bitchin'.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. We obviously know what we're getting and WGH is a heavily scouted school, but the major difference in the Scout evaluation and the fact Rogers has to put on 20, 30, 40 pounds before playing make projecting him difficult. A Rogers that is just as fast as this Rogers but weighs 250 is a first round pick, but that's quite a trick there.
General Excitement Level: High, eventually. Most of the scouting reports report some outrageous athleticism just waiting to be developed. The crazy frame gives him a major advantage coming off the edge and his athleticism is such that West Virginia was actually looking at him as a
Projection: Will take the Crable/Roundtree Memorial redshirt-so-you-don't-get-broken-in-half, and will probably get only sparing time in 2011; in 2012 and beyond will be an edge-rushing terror as an outside linebacker.