RICHARD CHRISTOPHER RODGERS, II
Tight End/H-Back University of California Golden Bears
St. John's High School
Graded out at 5.22: "NFL backup or special teams potential"
The Massachusetts native traveled far from home to become a legacy on the opposite side of the country, playing for the team where his father, Richard, Sr., was was prominently involved in "The Play" in the 1982 Big Game (making the final of five laterals). The son lived with his after his parents divorced and the two moved around quite a bit while the father played in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League. They eventually settled down in Worcester, where his father spent six seasons coaching at Holy Cross, after collegiate coaching stops at Diablo Valley College, San Jose State, Portland State and New Mexico State, picking up professional coaching experience in the NFL's minority internship program with the Oakland Raiders and with the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe. Richard, Sr., is currently the special teams coordinator with the Carolina Panthers under former Cal teammate and current Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera.
While living in Worcester, Rodgers attended St. John's High School, where he played predominantly on special teams during his 2008 sophomore campaign, punting 16 times for a 35.2 average, while making 33 extra points and two field goals. He posted a solid junior season when he was named the Defensive MVP of the Division IA Conference with 42 tackles, three sacks and four interceptions including one that he returned 75 yards for a touchdown, while also contributing 49 receptions for 800 yards and twenty touchdowns on offense.
Named a Prep Star All-American as a senior, Rodgers led all Massachusetts Division C-1 players in receiving, sacks and scoring, while also ranking tenth in tackles. He posted 65 catches for 1,064 receiving yards and hauled in 16 touchdown grabs during his final prep campaign.
That season, Rodgers also added seven rushes for 61 yards and a touchdown, two-of-three passing for 89 yards, a 37.2 punting average, seven punt returns for 73 yards and four kick returns for 91 yards as a senior for a 12-1 squad that won the state's Division IA Conference with a 5-0 league mark. He recorded 35 tackles, eight sacks, one interception that he returned 35 yards, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on defense as a senior.
Rodgers garnered four and a half stars from Tom Lemming, and received three stars from Scout.com as a member of the 2011 recruiting class. He was listed as the ninth-best athlete nationally according to Lemming. The Super Prep All-Region player also played basketball and averaged 14.5 points per game as a junior in 2009-10.
Despite being recruited as a tight end at California, Rodgers was often used in motion, also seeing time in the slot, but he made quite an impact creating mismatches vs. smaller cornerbacks when aligned at the flank. After seeing nothing more than special team action during his first season with the Bears, he went on to catch 59 passes for 896 yards (15.19 ypc) and a pair of touchdowns during the course of his final 22 college contests.
One of three true freshmen to letter for California in 2011, Rodgers was listed third on the depth chart at tight end, but his only statistics came with the special team units. He blocked a kick vs. Presbyterian and had a 5-yard kickoff return vs. Arizona State. As a sophomore, he switched from jersey #82 to #11 and started six games, grabbing 20 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown. He was hampered a bit early in the year by a right foot sprain that forced him to sit out the Ohio State clash, and a second sprain to his right foot caused him to play his final three games of the season in pain.
Prior to the 2013 season, Rodgers said goodbye to Red Vines and hello to a new position. "I told him you will not play a down if you don't (lose weight) because you're slow and fat and out of shape and you can't play," Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin said of Rodgers. "He wants to play." So Rodgers, who played tight end for the Bears in 2012, dropped 33 pounds to find a home in an offense that doesn't typically feature his position.
After ballooning to 278 in the offseason while recovering from shoulder and foot injuries, Rodgers cut out his biggest dietary vice. "I have a big sweet tooth. I like Red Vines a lot," he said. "That was my problem." Now healthy and trim at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, the junior competed for playing time at one of the two inside slot positions in Cal's four-receiver alignment. "He's a natural," Franklin said. "He's born to be that -- the new prototype that you see in the NFL now."
Touted by former coach Jeff Tedford as potentially one of the nation's elite tight ends, Rodgers said he wasn't worried to discover new coach Sonny Dykes' Bear Raid offense doesn't include the position. "I played receiver in high school," he said. Dykes said the Bears had big plans for Rodgers.
"We're playing around with Rodgers a little bit, maybe let him carry the ball some in short-yardage situations," Dykes said during 2013 August camp. "He's had a good camp and he's a big, strong guy, so we're trying to figure out ways to get him the ball." Rodgers would start five more times as a junior, connecting on 39 receptions for 608 yards (15.59 ypc) and a score. He carried seven times out of the backfield and chipped in with a pair of solo tackles in eleven contests, sitting out the USC clash with a thumb sprain.
Prior to the January filing deadline, Rodgers announced that he would not be returning to school for his senior season and had declared for the NFL Draft. A lot of little youngsters run around a football field, dreaming of one day doing it for a living and imagining catching passes from Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Rodgers had — and still has — that dream. His reverie has always been more realistic than most.
Rodgers always had the drive and the determination and as he grew up and grew into his body, progressed through high school at St. John's, and playing at the top collegiate level at the University of California, it became apparent he had the athleticism and the ability as well. "I thought it was time to take the next step," Rodgers said. "I'm taking the next step in my career and getting to where I'm trying to go — the NFL."
Rodgers said he started thinking more seriously about declaring for the draft after Cal's season-ending 63-13 loss at Stanford. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Rodgers sought a lot of advice and gathered as much information as he could about taking the next step. His dad's counsel meant the most as he made his decision. Rodgers Sr. had just completed his second year as the Carolina Panthers' special teams coordinator.
"The thing that put me over the top was just talking to my dad," Rodgers said. "He just told me to do what's best for me, whatever I want to do is the thing he would support. That was pretty much it. He just supported me throughout the whole thing."
"I'm taking everything with a businesslike approach," Rodgers said. "I know the NFL is a business and you need to be on top of things and responsible and get your work done because that's what they're expecting of you. They're expecting you to come in and do anything you can to help them win a Super Bowl and that's what I'm going to do, just keep my head down and work and get ready for a job interview. That's what it is — a job interview."
As the son of a coach, Rodgers grew up on the gridiron. "I saw the players he coached," Rodgers said, "and I've been around the game forever, so I just knew that's what I wanted to do."
"Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to be a professional athlete," Rodgers said, "and I think the decision was what sport. In high school, I chose to play football and I just stuck with it from there and whatever I put my mind to, I can do. That's exactly what I did. I always wanted to be a professional athlete. Now I actually have that chance to make it come true."
Rodgers appeared in thirty-five games at California, starting eleven contests…Finished his career with 59 receptions for 896 yards (15.19 ypc) and two touchdowns…Gained nine yards on seven carries, recorded three solo tackles, blocked one kick and returned a kickoff five yards.
After shedding thirty-three pounds, the 245-pound junior shifted to the "Y" receiver position, starting five contests vs. Northwestern, UCLA, Oregon State, Washington and Arizona, appearing in eleven games…Sat out the Southern California clash with a thumb injury, but still finished third on the team with a career-high 39 receptions for 608 yards (15.59 ypc) and one touchdowns…Gained nine yards on seven reverses and recorded a pair of solo tackles…Had the team's top yards-per-reception average among its top eight receivers…Posted two of his three career 100-yard receiving games with a season-high 125 yards receiving on five catches vs. Stanford in the season finale and four catches for 100 yards vs. Portland State, with the longest two catches of his career also vs. the Vikings (75-yard touchdown) and the Cardinal (62 yards) that were the team's second and third-longest catches of the season…Recorded a career-high-high-tying seven catches for 71 yards vs. Washington…Added receptions and receiving yards in other games vs. Oregon State (6-68), Washington State (4-85), Northwestern (4-38), UCLA (3-34), Oregon (2-38), Arizona (2-24), Colorado (1-20) and Ohio State (1-5)…Had at least one catch in all eleven games he played in and recorded at least one catch of 20 or more yards in nine of eleven games and had a team-high total of eleven catches of 20 or more yards…Added nine rushing yards on seven carries with all of the yards and all carries other than one including a career-long five-yard run coming vs. UCLA for a total of 617 all-purpose yards, as he also picked up two tackles with both coming vs. Washington State.
Rodgers played in eleven games, starting as a 278-pound tight end vs. Nevada, Southern Utah, UCLA, Washington State, Stanford and Oregon State…Switched to jersey #11 from #82 prior to the season…Caught twenty passes for 288 yards (14.4 ypc) and a touchdown, missing the Ohio State clash after suffering a right foot sprain vs. Southern Utah…Ranked first on the team among regulars and second overall with an average of 14.4 yards per catch, while he was third in yards receiving, tied for third in touchdown catches and fourth in receptions…Had at least one catch in each of the final eight games and nine of the eleven contests he played in overall…Posted a career-high-tying seven receptions and a career and team-high 129 yards receiving with one catch going for 50 yards and another for 42 to help lead Cal to a victory over South Division champion UCLA…Caught three balls for 76 yards and his first career touchdown on a seven-yard reception at Utah, with one of his catches going for a season-high 51 yards…Honorable mention College Football Performance Awards Tight End Performer of the Week after his performances both vs. UCLA and at Utah…Had the first catch of his career vs. Southern Utah (14 yards) and added single receptions in contests vs. Washington (23 yards), Washington State (seven yards), Oregon (six yards) and Stanford (four yards)…Recorded the first tackle of his career in the season opener vs. Nevada…Helped out with punting drills during the spring when the team was short on punters.
Rodgers was one of only three true freshmen to play in all thirteen games, along with Mustafa Jalil and Viliami Moala, getting in all of his action off the bench…Contributed the team's lone blocked kick of the season when he blocked a punt vs. Presbyterian…Had one kick return for five yards in the regular-season finale at Arizona State.
INJURY REPORT 2012 Season…Missed the Ohio State game after he sprained his right foot vs. Southern Utah…Played final three games of the season with torn ligaments in his right foot … Limited in 2013 spring camp by a shoulder issue that he suffered late in 2012. 2013 Season…Did not play vs. Southern California due to a thumb sprain.
4.87 in the 40-yard dash…1.69 10-yard dash…2.82 20-yard dash…4.47 20-yard shuttle… 7.23 three-cone drill…31 ½-inch vertical jump…9'-8" broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 16 times…32 5/8-inch arm length…10 1/8-inch hands…80-inch wingspan.
Rodgers attended St. John's (Worcester, Mass.) High School, where he played mostly on special teams during his 2008 sophomore campaign, punting 16 times for a 35.2 average, while making 33 extra points and two field goals…As a junior, he earned Defensive MVP of the Division IA Conference with 42 tackles, three sacks and four interceptions including one that he returned 75 yards for a touchdown, while also contributing 49 receptions for 800 yards and twenty touchdowns on offense…Named a Prep Star All-American as a senior, leading led all Massachusetts Division C-1 players in receiving, sacks and scoring, while also ranking tenth in tackles…Posted 65 catches for 1,064 receiving yards and hauled in 16 touchdown grabs during his final prep campaign…That season, Rodgers also added seven rushes for 61 yards and a touchdown, two-of-three passing for 89 yards, a 37.2 punting average, seven punt returns for 73 yards and four kick returns for 91 yards as a senior for a 12-1 squad that won the state's Division IA Conference with a 5-0 league mark…Also recorded 35 tackles, eight sacks, one interception that he returned 35 yards, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on defense as a senior … The Super Prep All-Region player also played basketball and averaged 14.5 points per game as a junior in 2009-10.
PERSONAL Rodgers is a General Studies major…Son of Mindy and Richard Rodgers, Sr…Father is a former Cal football player who was prominently involved in "The Play" in the 1982 Big Game (given credit for calling "The Play" and making the final of five laterals), and went on to play in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League. Richard Sr. served as Carolina's interim special teams coordinator for the final seven games in 2012 after starting the year as special teams assistant. He was recently named the Panthers' special teams coordinator. During those last seven games, Rodgers had a positive effect on the special teams' play, helping the Panthers improve from 31st to 14th in the NFL in punt return average and from 18th to 10th in punt coverage. Rodgers' unit also led the league in opponents' kickoff return average following a 30th-place finish in 2011. Rodgers came to Carolina with 23 years of college experience. He coached at Holy Cross from 2005-11, spending his last six seasons as the defensive coordinator after handling the secondary in 2005. Rodgers developed the Crusaders into one of the top defenses in the Patriot League. Five players from his unit earned All-Patriot League honors in 2009, 2010 and 2011. From 2001-04, Rodgers tutored the secondary at New Mexico State. During his tenure, the Aggies pilfered 45 interceptions, while lowering their passing yardage allowed in each of his final three seasons. Previously, Rodgers worked four years at Portland State from 1997-2000. He oversaw the Vikings' secondary and special teams in addition to serving as the team's strength and conditioning coordinator. Prior to Portland State, Rodgers had a two-year stint at San Jose State, working with the secondary and special teams from 1995-96. He started his coaching career as an assistant at Diablo Valley Community College from 1989-94. Rodgers also gained valuable exposure to professional football along the way. He participated in the NFL's Minority Internship Program with the Oakland Raiders during training camp in 1996 and then was the defensive backs coach for the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe in 1998. Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Rodgers played linebacker and wide receiver for three seasons in the Arena Football League. He appeared in the league's first championship game in 1987, catching a 32-yard touchdown pass for the Denver Dynamite in Arena Bowl I…The current California player was born Richard Christopher Rodgers II on 1/22/92…Resides in Worcester, Massachusetts.