Charles Rogers, former Michigan State star wideout and the second overall pick of the 2003 NFL draft, passed away Monday morning at the age of 38 due to liver failure.
According to multiple news outlets, Rogers died in a recent hospital stay. Several of his high school coaches confirmed to mlive.com that he was battling cancer.
Rogers played for the Green and White from 2000-2002, and he quickly solidified himself as one of the premier wide receivers in the country. In his final season on the team, Rogers hauled in 68 receptions for 1,351 yards and 13 touchdowns, earning first team All-American honors and the Paul Warfield trophy, which is given to the top wide receiver in college football.
After dominating the college landscape, the Detroit Lions selected Rogers as the second overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. He was unable to mirror the success he enjoyed in college, however, mainly due to injuries and off-the-field issues, including charges of assault and battery and problems with alcohol abuse. Just five games into his rookie season with the Lions, Rogers broke his clavicle during practice and was forced to miss the rest of the year. Just three plays into the following season, he broke his clavicle again, leaving him out for the rest of that year too.
In 2005, Rogers was suspended for four games after he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy for the third time, prompting the Lions to file a grievance seeking money returned from his contract. Just a year later, in September of 2006, the Lions released Rogers. He played in a grand total of 15 games with Detroit, finishing his NFL career with 36 receptions for 440 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Current Head Coach Mark Dantonio and Wide Receivers Coach Don Treadwell released statements today on the passing of Rogers.
"The Spartan football family is deeply saddened to learn the news of Charles Rogers passing away," Dantonio said. "He was an incredible talent who set numerous records at Michigan State and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best wide receiver in 2002. I was here as an assistant coach during Charles' first year on campus in 2000, and as a defense, we had to go against him in practice every day. He stopped by the football building a few years ago and was really excited and honored to see his All-America plaque and Biletnikoff Award on display in the lobby. We send our condolences to his family, friends and former teammates during this difficult time."
Treadwell was also Rogers' position coach during his time as a Spartan.
"Charles Rogers was a gifted young man," Treadwell said. "He had the total package as a premier wide receiver with size, speed and range, topped with an awesome competitive spirit, yet he was humble off the field. It was a privilege to have coached him. He's a great Spartan warrior who will be deeply missed."
Several former MSU and NFL stars took to Twitter to express their condolences and reflect on Rogers’ life and career.