His cousin cropped several pictures of him in high school that made him look like the Hulk. Some at Tech call him “The Machine.” Receivers coach Aaron Moorehead prefers to call him “Drago,” for his slight resemblance to the “Rocky IV” antagonist.
“That’s funny,” Rogers said. “I looked him up right when he said that because I know it’s bad, but I haven’t seen ‘Rocky IV.’ Sorry about that.”
He’s had to make no apologies for his play on the field so far. Both Beamers, head coach Frank and running backs coach Shane, have been highly complimentary of the Mechanicsville product, who wasn’t heavily recruited, despite his do-it-all Hanover High exploits. He chose to walk on at Tech over scholarship offers at Bucknell and St. Francis and walk-on opportunities at Virginia, Richmond and William & Mary.
The 5-foot-10, 220-pound freshman played quarterback in high school. And receiver. And running back. And multiple positions on defense. He was a first-team all-state utility player as a senior. That versatility is what Tech likes so much.
“He’s not your typical fullback,” Shane said. “Nothing against Joey Phillips. I love him to death, but Joey was going to block the linebacker on the iso and kick to the Sam linebacker on the power play, but he wasn’t a real weapon out in space. Sam, we feel like can line up as a slot receiver and have a matchup problem with some linebackers, because he’s a football player, if that makes sense.”
“I think about him, I think about the Cody Grimms and the Jack Tylers,” Frank said. “He’s just a football player. He plays that way.”
Shane has no shortage of stories about Rogers already:
– Rogers has tirelessly learned the playbook in his first month here. ”Other than [Scot] Loeffler, [Jeff] Grimes and myself and the offensive coaches, I’m not sure there’s another person in this building that knows the offense better than him,” Shane said. “He can go out and can play any position right now.”
– Knowing what a good blocker Martin Scales was last year, Rogers had Shane call up all of Scales’ pass protections from last year so he could watch them. ”From Day 1 he has been on a mission to play,” Shane said.
– He’s a big gym rat. In the first week of summer school, freshmen didn’t have access to the weight room until they got through that Friday of classes. “That just drove him crazy,” Shane said. So Rogers called Shane one night around 10 p.m., wanting to know if the practice field would be open at 6 the next morning so he could get a workout in.
“In my mind, I’m just doing stuff that’s going to make me a better football player and help this team, Rogers said. “I can care less about individual accolades. I just know what I can do on the field to help this team win.”
The next few weeks will determine if Rogers is ready to get on the field right away. With Riley Beiro deciding to give up football because of a shoulder injury, it’s a four-man race at fullback that includes Rogers, juniors Fuller Hoepner and Greg Gadell and fellow freshman Jerome Wright.
Loeffler likes versatile players and Frank has said Tech would like to use the fullback more than it has in the past, so it could be a significant role for whoever wins the job.
“He may be ready to help us this year,” Shane said of Rogers. “But if not, he’s going to be a good football player for us.”