Sunday, October 2, 2022

Rogers ready to be Spartans leading man

April 4, 2002

During the winter, the MSU football team’s No. 1 offensive weapon went from a 6-foot-1, 249-pound bulldozer, to a 6-4, 200-pound game-breaker.

With the departure of running back T.J. Duckett, opposing defensive coordinators still will lose sleep developing schemes, but this time to stop junior wide receiver Charles Rogers.

But entering spring practice March 20 as the Spartans’ major source of offensive output didn’t worry Rogers.

“I don’t believe in pressure,” he said. “I don’t feel like there’s ever too much weight that I can’t handle. I just worry about helping the team out and getting the job done.”

While he doesn’t believe in pressure, he handles it well.

Junior quarterback Jeff Smoker said when defenses keyed in on Duckett last season, Rogers was asked to step up.

“Chuck is the guy that can handle that pressure and I think he realizes it,” Smoker said. “He never let all that attention and hype get to him.”

Last season Smoker hooked up with Rogers for the majority of the receivers’ 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns. Rogers also averaged 21.9 yards per catch and 122.5 yards per game.

“It’s easy,” Smoker said. “It might sound dumb, but he gets open. When I look for him he’s either out running the guy or making a cut on the guy.”

Rogers said he can’t take all the credit.

“It works both ways,” Rogers said. “He helps me out and I help him out. He’s got a nice touch on the ball so he makes my job a lot easier just getting me the ball and not getting me hit. And just getting me the ball as far as catching it in stride.”

Defensive secondary coach Troy Douglas doesn’t work with Rogers and Smoker individually, but he still notices how well they’re clicking.

“They’ve got a little aura and when they look at each other they have that little something about them,” Douglas said. “It’s a lot different with him and the other receivers because they have that special bond going on.”

This year Smoker isn’t the only one making Rogers look good. The return of cornerback Cedric Henry, who was academically ineligible last season, already has helped. The two usually square off against each other in drills and they have created a friendly rivalry when Rogers lines up on Henry’s side of the field.

“He’s like, ‘You ready? I’m not going to hold anything back.”’ Rogers said. “And I’m like, ‘I’m not going to hold anything back either.’ Every time I go against Ced Henry he gives it 100 percent and I give it 100 percent, so there’s no loafing when we go at each other.

“If he breaks up a pass he gives me a pat on the back, if I catch a pass I give him a pat, so it’s all love. And that’s good. That’s good competition and that’s a good friendship as well.”

Douglas is happy he only has to coach Henry on how to guard Rogers in practice.

“I’m glad we don’t have to play against him on Saturday,” he said. “He’s special, I’ve never seen a kid that can go up and get the ball in the air like he does. All we have to do is try to stay close to him in practice.

“The first thing you have to do is find out where he’s lining up. Last year he lined up basically as a split end, so you could roll the coverage to him or something like that, but if he’s in a situation where they’re putting him in motion or something like that it’s hard to double him.”

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