Bayou Bengals lead for Ga. safety

LSU has some good free safety prospects left on its recruiting board for the 2003 signing class and near the top of the list is one of the best in the Peach State.<br><br>Roderick Rogers (6-2, 185, 4.5) of Stephenson-Stone Mountain, Ga. plays both safety spots for one of the powerhouse programs in Georgia.

Roderick Rogers has picked off five passes and scored three defensive touchdowns this year and said he is on pace to top his 94 tackles from a year ago.


Now that he has fully recovered from the injury he suffered last spring, any doubts about his determination and abilities have been erased. He narrowed his list of schools to five with LSU leading West Virginia, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech and Alabama.


"I like the program from watching the games on TV," Rogers said of LSU. "I took a visit there during the summer and I liked the environment. I also like the coaching staff because they are all real down to earth, especially the defensive backs coach (Charlie Harbison). I know the football team is doing real well right now and I heard they have a good sports medicine program down there."


Rogers, who is projected as a free safety in college, said as of now his second choice would be West Virginia but all of that could change after he makes his official visits. He has visits set up with the Mountaineers and Wisconsin in December and he is currently talking to LSU defensive line coach Lance Thompson about getting everything set for his official trip to Baton Rouge.


He wanted to try to set up his visit during football season but due to travel and his high school team's success things just did not work out the way he had hoped. He has seen Tiger Stadium in person when it was completely empty but he knows from seeing it on television that it can be one of the rowdiest environments in college football.


"The crowd and the atmosphere are great," Rogers told Tiger Rag. "They have a lot of team spirit and a big crowd behind the team. It is one of the craziest and loudest stadiums I've seen on TV."


Other than playing for a high-profile program, Rogers said he wants to play for a coach that can get him to the next level and he can not think of a better mentor than LSU coach Nick Saban.


"I would feel real good about having him as a coach," said Rogers, who is fully qualified to play as a freshman. "He turned the program around a lot when he came in with some new things. That is a real special program now.


"He got a couple of new coaches in there and the conditioning program turned around. He has got them in there working hard and trying to get them in good shape to keep the program up. It is on the rise now. Championships are ahead."


A big reason LSU has contended for championships since Saban's arrival is the team chemistry he developed, along with some completely new offensive and defensive schemes. The defensive scheme, in particular, has caught Rogers' eye.


"I know they have great defensive backs and you see a lot of blitzes," Rogers said. "I think I would fit in well with what they are trying to do. I like the players because they are like the people at home. They like to joke with you on and off the field. I know they work real hard out there every day but they seem like a big family."


If faced with an option to either cover the receiver or go up and hit the ball carrier, Rogers said he would choose the physical confrontation.


"I like hitting somebody and knocking them out," he said. "There is a lot more action to it when you hit somebody. They know you are there. I love to come up and make a good solid tackle. I like to blitz a lot but I can also play one-on-one too. I have good cover ability."


Rogers and his teammates are trying to focus on the present for now and let the future take care of itself after his team makes its run through the playoffs. Stephenson has had to endure some problems this season that it is not accustomed to but Rogers and his teammates are ready to bring the state crown to Stone Mountain.


"It has gone a little better than last year for me because I have had more interceptions and the tackles are coming along like last year," Rogers said. "It's been rougher with injuries because we have to go through the playoffs without our starting tailback. We did not have to do that last year so we have to pick up the slack."


If everyone else takes care of business the way Rogers does then another state championship should be well within reach.

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