Rowdy Roddy Rogers

first_imgRAY PFEIFFER/Herald photoThe University of Wisconsin football team ranks third in the nation in pass defense and first in pass-efficiency defense, the only top national ranking currently for the Badgers in any statistics.Nevertheless, the Badger defensive backs haven’t received much recognition this season, despite having been the most consistent piece of the entire UW team, shutting down the opposing offensive passing threat each week.A large piece to the defensive success, and the chief menace for opposing quarterbacks, has been the Badgers’ free safety, senior Roderick Rogers. Rogers came into his final season ranked as the sixth-best free safety in the nation by the Sporting News, and also a leading contender for the Lott Trophy and Thorpe Award, awards given to the best defensive back in the entire nation.But Badger fans haven’t heard Rogers name too often this season for a good reason — he’s always in the right spot at the right time doing his job, shutting down the opposing team’s passing attack.Defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks has also noticed that Rogers hasn’t been getting much recognition for his play this year.”As of late, I feel he’s prepared and has been playing well the whole season,” Cooks said of Rogers. “Maybe he hasn’t had as many picks as the outside world would want him to have, [but] he prepares the right way and has done that since August, and even now he comes in and watches film. He’s making the plays that they give to him.”Rogers made his name heard, more than he has all season, against Penn State, earning Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors from head coach Bret Bielema. Rogers was seemingly all over the field, making plays against the Nittany Lions pass-catchers.The Stone Mountain, Ga., native totaled three tackles — including one brutal hit on Penn State tailback Tony Hunt for a loss of 7 yards — along with two broken-up passes and his first interception of the year inside the UW red zone, denying PSU their best offensive opportunity of the game.Alongside Rogers in the secondary, sophomore cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu has also seen his teammate excelling not just this past weekend, but the entire season.”You can always trust Rogers to be at the right place, he’s really opportunistic, and he’s always around the ball,” Ikegwuonu said. “He seems to have a nose for the football. He’s great in the run game and brings everything you would want in a free safety.”Not only does Rogers have a knack for finding the ball, but he is also one of the team’s emotional leaders.”He brings a lot of confidence and a lot of swagger [to the team],” Ikegwuonu said. “Roderick is a real confident player, he brings his A-game to the field every day, and it rubs off on us; we want to play up to his level. He knows what’s going on and knows the defense real well.”Part of what makes Rogers so anonymous is his shy side. Rogers was actually unavailable for comment this week in preparation for Wisconsin’s upcoming game against Iowa, leaving his coach and teammates to speak praises of him for his on-field play in 2006.”He’s a quiet guy. He’s not going to be the ‘rah rah’ vocal type of leader,” Cooks said. “But he’s the type of guy who speaks leadership through his type of play on the field, and on the practice field. He’s the guy that focuses in, and … when anything negative [is] going to happen, he’s got the leadership to where people respect him, to where he can say something, and his presence and his words can speak volumes to the team.”Rogers would not have been able to accomplish the feats of the Penn State game, says Ikegwuonu, without his constant efforts at getting better in practice each day and in studying game films.”[Rogers] really stresses the point in watching film; I see him up there every day,” Ikegwuonu said. “What he gets from film, the way he’s able to see the game before it happens, recognize routes, formations on the field. It makes you realize how important film watching is. That’s one of the biggest things that I’ve gotten from Roderick.”Constantly studying film and getting better has not only resulted in Rogers being a force for opposing quarterbacks to reckon with, but has also naturally landed Rogers as chief in command in the back field.”He’s always the one making the checks; he’s kind of the field general out there. He’s constantly controlling the movements and communicating,” Ikegwuonu said. “I think that’s one of the biggest things he does so well. He knows the playbook so well that he’s able to see things before they happen and able to anticipate.”Despite the lack of recognition, his teammates know he’s quietly become one of the best in the conference at what he does.”Rogers is a great free safety. He came in as one of the best in the Big Ten,” Ikegwuonu said. “He always aspires to be one of the best, and that’s where he thinks he could be.”last_img read more