Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Darreus Rogers grabs spotlight
By Sean Ceglinsky ESPNLA.com
In the fast-paced, ever-changing world of high school football recruiting, prospects are monitored with regularity and their value tends to increase, or decrease, each day. Darreus Rogers (Carson, Calif./Carson) knows this all to well. He understands how the game works. Better than most, in fact.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound receiver is on a rather large upswing, with seemingly more momentum than he can handle. He's essentially enjoying the ride as one of the nation's hotter commodities among his counterparts in the 2012 class.
And Rogers did little, or nothing, to tarnish his growing reputation as one of the country's top up-and-comers by helping the 1925 All-Stars win a national title in his debut with the team this past weekend at the New Level Athletics 7-on-7 passing tournament in Dallas.
No less than his 7-on-7 coach, former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson, says WR Darreus Rogers is bound for college stardom and beyond.
"There's a lot of hype surrounding me, but I don't worry about it. I worry about what happens on the field, the rest will take care of itself,'' said Rogers, a USC commit. "I feel like I bring a lot to the table when I play. I think schools are starting to notice me more and more."
Rogers is on the radar of numerous college coaches and scouts and it won't take long for word to spread about how well he played in the Lone Star State tournament for the 1925 All-Stars, a program directed by former NFL vets and Keyshawn Johnson and Brian Kelly.
Most times, ESPNU 150 member Jordan Payton (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) is the main attraction. Accordingly, he draws most of the attention. Furthermore, the one-time USC pledge recently made headlines when he decided to explore his college options.
"This was the best time for me to take a step back, see the broader picture, and go through the whole recruiting process,'' Payton said. "I talked with Ed Orgeron at USC. The Trojans respect my decision. My focus is handling my business now. I can't wait for what's next.''
That said, it does not appear Rogers will play alongside Payton at USC. He did, however, get a glimpse of what it would have been like with the 1925 All-Stars.
"It was a good experience lining up with Jordan,'' Rogers said. "We didn't talk much about his decision. I told him that I know where he's coming from though.''
Aside from Rogers and Payton, the 1925 All-Stars are absolutely loaded at receiver. Bryce Treggs (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Kodi Whitfield (Los Angeles/Loyola) and Chris Harper (Encino, Calif./Crespi) are far from slouches.
Nevertheless, Rogers found a way to command the spotlight.
"Darreus didn't play with us in the past, it was a weird deal, but we're glad he's around now,'' Johnson said. "When we found out he was available, we reached out to him and his family and things worked out. It was a great opportunity for everyone involved.
"Honestly, I wish I would've had him for the last two years. If I did, he'd be ready for the NFL right now. He has everything, the size with his body type, he attacks the football, he has incredible leaping ability and good speed, too. All he needs is maturity and that will come with time. I'll say this, he possesses all the tools in his tool box, they just need to be sharpened.
"He's going to be one of those players who makes an immediate impact at the next level, hands down. When he makes it to the college game, mark my words, he won't be there for long. I give him three years, then he will be off to the NFL. Darreus Rogers can play. ''
Johnson, Kelly & Co. also had ESPNU 150 players Shaq Thompson (Sacramento, Calif./Grant) and Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Central) in uniform for the tournament.
Deontay Greenberry (Fresno, Calif./Washington Union) and Johnny Johnson (Fresno, Calif./San Joaquin Memorial) made appearances for the 1925 All-Stars, as well.
The collection of talent assembled by Johnson and Kelly was impressive.
"We were calling ourselves the New York Yankees before this passing tournament in Dallas, not the Miami Heat,'' Johnson said. "We're like the Steinbrenner family, we wanted to put together a winner, a championship caliber group, and Darreus was a big part of that.''
Confidence appears to be at an all-time high for Rogers, especially after his most recent eye-opening performance. Moreover, it would not be the least bit surprising to see him carry some of that much-needed momentum into his senior season over at Carson.
We are, after all, talking about an individual who has enjoyed his share of success in the not so distant past, specifically, a three-year career at the varsity level.
In limited action as a sophomore, Rogers showed flashes of his potential and averaged 15 yards per touch over the course of a 13-game season for the Colts.
His game reached new heights shortly thereafter.
As the No.1 option during his junior year, Rogers had 45 receptions for 1,347 yards, slightly less than 30 yards per catch. He also had eight touchdowns.
If the past is any indication, Rogers figures to continue developing what most consider to be an already well-rounded skill set.
"There's always room for improvement, no player is perfect, that's how I feel,'' Rogers said. "I have goals. For my senior season, I want to get 2,000 yards receiving and catch 20 touchdowns. The only way to do that is by going out and working hard every day.
"I think colleges look for players with a good work ethic. If you don't have a good work ethic, it doesn't matter how good of a player you are. You have to play with a chip on your shoulder sometimes. I think that's what separates me from some other guys out there.''
Whatever he's doing, whatever the motivation, it's working.
Colleges from all over the country are constantly keeping close tabs on Rogers' every move despite him giving a verbal commitment to the Trojans in early January.
Several Pac-12 Conference schools have put scholarship offers on the table, including Arizona State and Washington. Another program that has offered is Miami (FL).
"When I found out USC wanted me, I was honored, its a big-time school,'' Rogers said. "Right now, I'm taking things as they come and it's all happening fast. In the end, I want to be at a college with a good passing attack so I can try to make my mark at the next level.''