It was an emotional experience this spring when Arkansas offensive line commit Zach Rogers of Lewisville, Texas, Hebron, trotted out on the football field with his pads on and ready for contact.
It was the first time Rogers (6-3, 300) had done so since injuring his ACL last August – something that caused him to miss the entire season and instead had him spending those months rehabbing and looking forward to the playing the game again.
"It was really an emotional time for me and my teammates, who knew how hard I worked to get back and how much it meant to me to get back out there and have the contact," Rogers said. "I can't even begin to tell you how much I missed football, how much I missed being in there with my teammates, just everything I love about football."
Rogers – who chose Arkansas over Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas and others — was able to go through all of his team's 18 spring practices, which ended with the spring game on May 29.
"My knee hurt a little bit at times, but it was expected that there would be some soreness," Rogers said. "But by the end of the spring practices, I felt 100 percent."
Rogers, a four-star prospect regarded as the nation's number one center in the country according to Scout.com, is one of the Razorbacks' eight commits for the 2015 class.
Even with his year out, Rogers is the cream of the center crop according to Scout national recruiting analyst Greg Powers.
"About as consistent as you will ever find. He is very balanced and plays with an authority on the field that makes him seem as well polished as any upper class man," Powers said. "Was 5A All-District as a freshman and as a sophomore, playing offensive tackle. He understands his assignments and is super strong at the point of attack. Has good feet and can block on the second level. You also have to love Rogers' motor as he plays until the whistle blows."
Rogers and his family will be in Fayetteville this weekend to hang out with his future coaches and teammates.
"I'm excited about getting up there to see those guys," Rogers said. "They all were really supportive of me as I went through my rehab and kept my spirits up."
Rogers is one of a trio of current Razorback 2015 commits along with quarterback Ty Storey and defensive end Daytrieon Dean that is on pace to be an early high school graduate, enroll at Arkansas in January and go through spring drills.
"After I committed to Arkansas, I made the decision to graduate early because I knew it would help me come in and compete and get the chance to play as early as possible," Rogers said.
Rogers also is well aware that redshirt junior Mitch Smothers is the leader at that spot going into fall, but nobody has really grabbed a stranglehold on the position.
"That's something that I am also thinking about by getting there early," Rogers said. "If I get there, get in the playbook, get the experience in spring drills, I can put myself in position to get on the field."
He got a chance to see the current Razorback offensive line work under coach Sam Pittman during Arkansas' Red-White scrimmage on April 26.
"I really think they have improved and that's to be expected with a guy like Coach Pittman," Rogers said. "I think the two younger guys (Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper) got great experience and are really going to have great years. I think the offense is going to be much, much better this season. Watching that made me want to get up there in January even more and join them."
Rogers knows that the offensive line has to be the strength of this season's Hebron squad.
"We basically have six guys coming back that have started on the line so that is without a doubt the strength of our team," Rogers said. "We have a young quarterback, brand new receivers and our defense is going to be almost totally new. So we have to be the leaders for the team this season."
Rogers Happy To Be Healthy Once Again
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