Carlos Rogers Ready To Show His Stuff

Mr. Rogers' neighborhood is not expected to be a receiver-friendly zone this fall.

Auburn, Ala.--Perhaps no Auburn football player had a tougher job in 2001 than cornerback Carlos Rogers.

A true freshman last fall who was a star player coming out of Augusta, Ga., two seasons earlier, Rogers decided to attend Hargrave Military Academy after not qualifying out of high school. He took care of his academic business there and became a full qualifier so he could play for the Tigers.

A big-play receiver as well as stellar defender, the coaches at Hargrave decided to use Rogers on offense in Virginia. While he responded with a big season, it wasn't enough to convince Auburn coaches that he needed to be a wide receiver. When he arrived in Auburn from day one forward his role with the Tigers has been as a cornerback.

Carlos Rogers

At a shade taller than six-foot-one and 191 pounds, Rogers has the size, speed and athletic ability to excite a college coach. "Carlos is the type of cornerback that we are looking for," says his position coach, Phillip Lolley, who has had plenty of praise for the defensive back since he arrived at Auburn. Lolley notes that with more very tall receivers on SEC and other football teams, cornerbacks who have good size are more important than ever.

Starting most of the 2001 season despite a year away from the defensive side of the game, Rogers excelled on Auburn's defense. Earning Freshman All-American honors for his play, a now bigger and stronger Rogers says that he's ready to show how much he's improved since last season.

"I feel like I'm a lot better, but I've got a lot more room for improvement," Rogers tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "After last year being thrown in the fire, there was a lot I had to learn. Being taught by 'T-Rob' (Travaris Robinson), (Roderick) Hood and even talking to Larry Casher, it helped me a lot. Last year, I just felt my way through. I made a lot of little mistakes. This year, I feel like I'm a lot better at picking them up. The game of football is always about learning though. Coaches come up with different schemes and receivers are faster and better."

Carlos Rogers is shown in a during an Auburn practice last fall as a freshman.

Learning a new scheme is something Rogers and his teammates have been forced to deal with as well since last season. Defensive coordinator John Lovett was replaced after an up-and-down season for the Tigers by former Central Florida defensive whiz Gene Chizik. Bringing a more aggressive and speed-oriented style to the Plains, Rogers says he has been real pleased with the progression of the new defense installed by Chizik.

"I've been real satisfied with the defense to this point," he notes. "We're getting better every day. We're working hard. We just have to push ourselves the entire time. The sun is getting to us at times, but we just have to work through that. Overall, we're getting better."

Injuries are something that Rogers has been forced to deal going into his sophomore season. Playing much of the latter part of the 2001 season with an injured hand, Rogers worked through spring practice with a cast on his hand before opting for surgery this spring to repair the problem. Back to 100 percent for the opening of two-a-days this fall, he sprained an ankle just days into the session. That forced him to sit and watch as his teammates worked on fundamentals in practice without him.

"It still kind of hurts me a little bit, but I'm taking it day by day," Rogers says of the ankle. "I'm trying to work with it although there is still some pain. If it hurts come game time, I'm still going to play."

Rogers has added weight and muscle in the past year, taking advantage of Auburn's offseason workout program.

Returning to the practice field last week, it has taken Rogers a few days to work out the stiffness and regain his old form back. Firmly entrenched as the starter opposite Hood, he says that the time he missed shouldn't affect his play this fall because of his prior knowledge of the defense and the time he has spent watching and studying video since spring practice.

"I know the defense pretty well," he says. "We'll probably put in a little more stuff, but basically the secondary will have the same coverages. I'm familiar with it, but I still want to practice on it to become familiar with how the scheme is going to go."

If he is forced to take a break from time to time, it will be something that Rogers embraces with open arms. Last season that was not something the coaches wanted to do until late in the season when Junior Rosegreen began playing well and was able to spell Rogers and Hood. Now fully stocked with capable backups in Lamel Ages, Rashaud Walker, Horace Willis and Dee Durham, Rogers smiles when he says that he has complete faith in any and all of cornerbacks if they are needed.

"That's real refreshing because last year we had times where we were on special teams and then had to run back on the field," he says. "This year a lot of guys have stepped up. They got better over the summer. Some of the starters and some of the second team can even get a break. That will be nice."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Rogers will look a little different to fans this fall who haven't seen him in uniform since last fall. He has gained more than 20 pounds since last season so Tiger fans should see a more physical Rogers when the Tigers take the field Sept. 2 against USC in Los Angeles.

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