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Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Strictly a business trip

By Jared Shanker
ESPN RecruitingNation

Na'Ty Rodgers has never been to Disney World. In fact, the Pomfret (Md.) McDonough offensive tackle has never even been to Florida.

While those experiences will be nice, Rodgers said they pale in comparison to the business trip he will soon make to the Sunshine State. On Jan. 4, the four-star lineman will play in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game after receiving his game jersey Wednesday as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour.

Na'Ty Rodgers
Na'Ty Rodgers, the No. 27 OT in the ESPN 100, has Maryland and South Carolina at the top of his list.

The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Rodgers, who is the No. 27 tackle nationally, didn't see too many of Maryland's top defensive linemen this season. So he is pumped to get down to Florida for Under Armour practices and compete against the nation's top three defensive ends and five of the 10-best ends.

"I'm looking forward to the practices," Rodgers said. "The game is going to be fun and the extra stuff, but I want to practice, getting to go against the guys on TV and ESPN all the time.

"I don't get to go against a lot of those guys. It's experience for me to see where I'm at, to test myself before I go to college."

That could be soon as Rodgers is looking into enrolling for the January semester once he comes to a decision -- another piece of business he could address at the UA Game. A strong showing in St. Petersburg could give Rodgers momentum heading into his college career.

One defensive end he is looking forward to going up against is Carl Lawson, the No. 2 defensive end and second-ranked overall prospect in the country. A friend of Rodgers who played against Lawson said he was one of the toughest linemen to block.

"He went up against Carl Lawson and said his hand work is pretty good," Rodgers said. "I want to see how hard [the elite defensive guys] work and see the guys with the hand work. Every once in a while you see a guy with a good motor, but [it's rare] to see someone who has it all put together before you go to college."

As for Rodgers' future, he has more than 20 offers but has narrowed it down to a top two: Maryland and South Carolina. He has not officially visited either program but has seen each at least once before.

The lure of playing in the SEC is nice for Rodgers, but that is not why he is looking at the Gamecocks.

"The atmosphere down there, you really can't beat that," he said. "The coaching staff is amazing and I really enjoy going down there. "You can see yourself going to that school. Even if I'm not playing football I'd still go there."

That will be the deciding factor in Rodgers' decision.

"Really, just the fact of where do I want to go? Would I want to go if I wasn't playing football?" Rodgers said. "Football can be taken away at any moment. I'm looking at a place I want to be regardless of if I'm playing or injured."

The Terrapins were expected to visit Rodgers at his school Wednesday following the jersey presentation.

"They're a young program and up and coming," he said. "It's always appealing to be a part of something new."

If another program is to enter the mix for Rodgers, it could be Michigan, which will send assistant coach Curt Mallory to McDonough Thursday.

The Wolverines have not offered but that could come if he visits.

"I'm interested in Michigan. I'm probably going to take a visit there," he said. "I've never seen the campus. I think I'm taking that [trip] Dec. 14."