“Have you ever been to Chicago or Cleveland in the winter?” he asked. “Imagine standing in 5-feet of snow in nothing but shorts and bare feet. That’s what it would feel like.”
Twice a week, those Saturday mornings, and again on Wednesday afternoons after practice, Rogers would submerge himself into the frigid ice bath.
“The first 3 minutes are (painful),” he said. “You just wait for your body to get numb. A lot of people can’t take it. But it’s all about getting my body right.”
The 6-foot-1, 190 pound Rogers would need those ice baths, and massages throughout the week to help prepare his body recover and prepare for the punishment of the more than 100 plays he would be in the middle of each Friday night for the Spartans.
“I felt it,” Rogers, a Central Florida commitment, said. “My body was paying for it. I just put my body on the line for our team every play.”
That weekly preparation allowed him to carry the ball 197 times for 1,735 yards and 23 touchdowns. Defensively as a safety, Rogers recorded 85 tackles, five forced fumbles and three interceptions. On special teams, he returned 15 kickoffs for 651 yards, taking three all the way for touchdowns. And add in six punt returns for 156 yards and a touchdown and the total package is the reason why Rogers is the 2013 Marietta Daily Journal Player of the Year.
“He was a human highlight film,” Campbell coach Harris Rainbow said. “The coaches and I would wear out the rewind button (when we watched game film) because we couldn’t believe what we just saw.
“There are very few people that when you see them you say they are just playing on a different level. I grew up in Cobb County and he’s the best player this county has ever seen.
That’s a strong statement considering Cobb County has produced players like current Georgia starting quarterback Hutson Mason, former Georgia Tech and current Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer, former South Carolina standout and Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley and former Bulldogs signal-caller, All-American and 10-year NFL veteran Eric Zeier, among many others.
Rogers made one of his best arguments to back up his coach in late October when Campbell took on Kennesaw Mountain.
It was the Spartans’ Senior Night, and he made it one to remember by running for what is assumed to be a Cobb County record 397 yards and four touchdowns, and did much of the damage after taking on one or more tacklers.
“The biggest thing is his ability to break tackles,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Andy Scott said.
“There were times two or three guys had him hemmed up and he’d pop free for another seven or eight yards.”
It was a game Rogers said he will relish for a long time.
“I love contact,” he said. “That’s where my strength comes in. I’m going to challenge tacklers and we’re going to find out who’s a man and who isn’t.”
There were times that attitude made Rainbow stop and scratch his head. He said one play that immediately came to mind was against Sprayberry in the preseason scrimmage. A tackler had an angle on Rogers and instead of trying to make him miss, Rogers ran right through him. The player made the tackle, but it was Rogers that had delivered the punishment.
“I told him, ‘It’s OK to run around someone,’” Rainbow said. “He told me, ‘I know, but that wouldn’t be as much fun.’”
That attitude was one of the main reasons Rogers, who only played in 10 games, was Class AAAAAA’s leading rusher until North Gwinnett running back C.J. Leggett finally passed him while playing in the state semifinals against McEachern — four games later.
“I don’t think he realizes how good he is,” Rainbow said. “And as good as a running back as he is, he’s a much better defensive player.
“Had he not played running back he would have been the greatest defensive player I’ve ever seen.”
Defense is where he will play – either safety or cornerback – once he arrives at Central Florida, and it is something Rogers is looking forward to.
“I’d really like to stay on one side of the ball where I could dedicate all my time to studying the opponent and really breaking down what they can do. I love defense.”
Rogers was one of the main reasons Campbell became competitive over the last two seasons. And as he leaves the program, Rainbow said he only has one regret about his time with Rogers.
“As great as a football player as he is, he’s a better person,” Rainbow said. “I just wish I could get him another year of eligibility.”