Andrews’ Rogers hopes to prove Ram tough
Growing up, James Rogers never really had a passion for football. Finally his senior year of high school, though, his outlook changed and he grew into one of the area’s top defensive standouts.
Now, thanks to his determination and hard work, Rogers, a senior nose guard at T.W. Andrews, has signed to continue playing at the NCAA Division II at Winston-Salem State University.
“It’s a blessing and an honor,” says Rogers, the son of Shaneka Alexander and James Rogers. “A lot of people work hard and don’t really achieve what I’m achieving now. I just have to give thanks to God and everyone who’s been involved with my life.”
Rogers says his start in football came out of nowhere. When he was in the fourth grade, his dad took him to a football camp in Thomasville. Over the years, with his size (now 6-foot-1, 325 pounds) and natural gifts, he’s been a force on the defensive line.
But it was only when he transferred to Andrews, which has been a powerhouse among area 2A teams in recent years, and coach Rodney McKoy that things clicked into place for him and he began to maximize his potential.
“I hated it at first,” Rogers recalls his start in football with a smile. “All the running, all the hard work. Now I love it. I just love everything about football.”
“Honestly, I really didn’t care for football until this year. Coach McKoy drilled it in my head how important hard work is, and so this year was really when I started caring for it.”
As a senior, in his only year with the Red Raiders, Rogers, who had never previously earned an all-conference selection, was named PAC-6 2A Defensive Player of the Year while helping Andrews go 11-2 overall, including 5-0 in the PAC-6, and reach the third round of the state playoffs.
“First, James is a good person,” McKoy said. “James is a humble, quiet guy. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but the biggest thing about James is that he’s reliable and the rest of it takes care of itself. Football’s always the easiest. It’s the intangibles that you need to get to this point, and his intangibles are good. His size, he’s reliable, and he’s a good football player.
“You initially look at his stature. That’s the first thing you think about — his size. But he’s also a highly intelligent football player. And when you talk with him about football, you can tell he has a high football IQ. We just showed him a few techniques and other things, just getting him to a point where he can be effective at a high level regularly.”
Rogers, who is also active in his church and volunteer work, narrowed his top choices to also include UNC Charlotte, Elizabeth City State, N.C. Central and Morgan State. The campus, the coaches and the program’s winning tradition — the Rams reached the FCS Championship game this season — led him to choose Winston-Salem State.
“It was just their determination to win,” says Rogers, who wants to study criminal justice. “That’s what they’re about: winning. They don’t assert anything else.”