After two years of overtures from Mike Locksley to Mike London-Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, the local edge rusher Lawtez Rogers (Roosevelt/Greenbelt, Md.) is on board with Maryland. Sans official visit, Rogers opted to jump on the UMD bandwagon Dec. 1 at the behest of the Terps’ coaches.
“Today is my birthday, so I thought, Why not commit today? And I’ve always known I wanted to be at Maryland. Like, ever since I got the offer I knew I wanted to be there. I really love what the school has to offer me, and the coaches there are great,” said the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Rogers, who projects as a 5-technique but could also play 3-teh. “I’ve had a great relationship with Coach [Aazaar Abdul] Rahim for a long time, and what he was saying to me [Dec. 1], I knew Maryland was the place for me. It’s a school I’ve been to often and a place I’m comfortable at. It’s a great fit for me.
“I called Coach Aazaar and told him I’m in, and he was really excited, and he told Coach [D.J.] Durkin and everyone else. [Rahim] thinks I can do big things there. I’m excited to be committed. There’s going to be a big change coming at Maryland, led by this 2017 class. It’s going to be something to see.”
Abdul-Rahim, a D.C. native who has known Rogers since before he entered high school, has had a bead on the DMV three-star for the past year. The two instantly connected when the coach arrived at Maryland, and it didn’t take long for Rogers to form a bond with Maryland’s defensive backs coach. Then, when UMD defensive line coach Mike London arrived, Rogers readily took to him as well.
“Coach Aazaar and I have a great relationship. He’s always talking to me, just about my family, school, football, all of that. He’s a great coach. He’s from the same background as me and he understands me,” said Rogers, who will take his lone official visit to UMD Dec. 9. “And Coach London, I love working with him and thing he’s a great coach. I think he can really help me become a better player. He has a great plan for me, and I can learn a lot from him. I have a great relationship with him too. My mom really likes him too, and that means something to me.”
It was that new staff, first and foremost, that drew Rogers to Maryland. He had a deep bond with former UMD coach Mike Locksley and was admittedly skeptical when the new regime came aboard. But Rogers instantly connected with head coach D.J. Durkin, Abdul-Rahim, London and the rest.
“Just the energy the coaches have and what they have going on there, it’s great,” Rogers said. “The whole staff, it’s like they’re really upbeat and enthusiastic.
“Like, when I was watching film with Coach London, he was all into it and demonstrating the drills. I saw exactly what he meant and how he wanted things done. And Coach Durkin, he’s always saying, ‘Why not come to Maryland?’ He’s always talking about staying home and accomplishing everything you want right here at Maryland. It’s like everyone there is so positive, and I want to be apart of that. He’s going to do great things at Maryland.”
Rogers made sure to mention strength coach Rick Court too. The Roosevelt product first met Court back in the winter, and the coach left a distinct impression.
“Coach Court would put pictures of players when they first walked in the door, and then post updated photos each year they were there until they left college,” Rogers said. “You could see them steadily getting bigger and stronger. Like one guy is now playing for the Redskins and he led them in sacks this year. He was one of [Court’s] guys, and he came in a scrawny freshman. But by the time he left college, he was a big, muscular guy ready for the NFL. So that’s a major positive for me.”
Even more than the coaches, it was the school and its proximity to home that sold Rogers. The Roosevelt product has been a constant presence in College Park, Md., the last two-plus years, taking in junior days; summer camps; games; special prospect days; and the like.
“It’s a great vibe at Maryland and I’m very comfortable there,” Rogers said. “I feel like it’s home for me. It’s right up the street and I can go there whenever I want. It’s a welcoming environment. The people, the coaches, the players there, I feel like I’m wanted there. It’s a great place to be.”
It’s also an opportunity for Rogers to show out in front of his friends and family. Namely, his mother, who is his greatest supporter.
“Everyone knows my mom; she’s always yelling [at Roosevelt games],” Rogers laughed. “She definitely wanted me to be at Maryland. She’s my greatest supporter and is at all my games. She’s happy I’m staying home. Now she can see all my games, and all my friends can see my games too.
“But just the campus, the atmosphere at Maryland, what they’re doing there with the facilities and all that, it’s great. It’s a great place to be. I like what they have going on there.”
If that weren’t enough, many of Rogers’ friends and fellow DMV natives are heading to Maryland, or are already in the program. Rogers said he believes in the hometown movement and the idea of building the local university into a winner.
The three-star went on to laud UMD’s academic support, it’s location near Washington, D.C., and the various opportunities presented there beyond football. He loves the Under Armour connections and the internships available too.
Rogers did have other suitors to consider at one point, including Rutgers, Louisville, Pitt and Wake Forest, but Maryland was the one constant. While others went in a different direction, the Terps’ coaches, with Abdul-Rahim leading the way, stayed on the local prospect.
“It’s just a great place to be. I love it up there, and I love how the coaches want me there,” Rogers said. “I’m excited to be a Terp.
“I mean, there were other schools in there, and they’re going to want who they want. But I feel Maryland was always the best way to go. I don’t care about the other schools and who they wanted or didn’t want. It’s fine. Maryland is were I wanted to be. I don't hold any grudges. Maryland is where I wanted to be all along anyway.”
Now that he’s committed, Rogers is eager to begin preparing for his college career. He said he’s improved tremendously from the time he began football in elementary school until 2016..
“I started in the 85-pound league here around 2009, and my dad was who got me involved. But my father passed, and then it was like my whole family got behind me,” Rogers said. “Two of my cousins coached in Greenbelt, and other family members pushed me a long too. I owe a lot to them. They pushed me to work and get better, and I did.
“I’ve come along way. Now, as a player, I feel like you can’t put a title on me. You can’t label me as a run stopper or pass rusher. I feel like I can be used up an down the line. I’m not just a defensive end or nose tackle. I can make plays all over the field, and that’s what I plan to do at Maryland. I’m excited.”