Rogers and Wald's Nebraska experience

From ‘Bama to Nebraska , it's a long trip and perhaps there are some expectations. Well, if you are a high school recruit, that is. For Justin Rogers and Mason Wald, both proud members of the Vestavia Hills Rebels, this was probably going to be a learning experience and an interesting one as well. It was for both. Now the question is, what does it mean for their respective futures?

The first thing you need to know about running back Justin Rogers, it's that he wasn't the only one on an official visit to Nebraska from the state of Alabama . You see, there's this other young man who goes by the name of Mason Wald.

Wald isn't the biggest kid, standing 5-11 and weighing around 200 pounds, but that's where you can stop. He plays big, hits big and you only have to ask Rogers himself what he thinks about the prospect of getting smacked full on by his teammate in practice. "I usually run the other way," Rogers joked as he talked about times when he went against Wald in practice, and shifted his direction. "The guy can hit and he's always around the ball."

The reason I am saying all this is that while Rogers has gotten the gamut in attention, it would seem that his teammate has for whatever reasons, gone relatively unnoticed. Wald himself said that aside from the offer he's now holding from the Huskers, the only other one comes right from inside his hometown of Birmingham , from Division 1-AA Samford.

Mason said that he's gotten letters from teams like Duke, South Florida, South Carolina , Stanford and Tennessee . But Nebraska was the first Division 1-A school to come out and offer him a full ride.

Rogers believes that he has a feeling as to at least part of the problem, but he was reluctant to say, because how it would be perceived, is definitely not how Rogers sees himself. "I think a lot of coaches were looking at me, to be honest. I don't think they took the time to look on the other side of the ball," Justin said. "It's too bad too, because that guy can play and man, he can hit."

Wald himself would tell you that hitting is what he likes to do. Yes, fundamentals are nice, and making sure to wrap up is always essential. But when I commented to him about the zone coverage he said his defense primarily plays and how that must be a bonus, because it allows safeties especially to sometimes just reel back and put a whoopin' on someone, he quickly said "That's why I like it. I like to hit."

Around 100 tackles Wald estimated is what he had for his senior season. That's good. But the six interceptions he said he had, that's even better. That gives you someone, by Rogers ' account, who can hit like there's no tomorrow, and by the statistics, he knows how to finish plays off, and he's good at getting to the ball.

So, what's up? Where's the love? Where's the attention?

Mason doesn't know, but he's curious how this Nebraska offer could change some of those perceptions. "Yeah, you never know what could happen now that I have an offer from a place like that. I guess we'll just have to see how it goes," Mason said.

I know what you are saying. I can hear it:

Samford? Nebraska ? Those are his two offers, and he isn't a commit to the Huskers right now?

That's correct, and while Mason thought a lot about the program, and even said that staying close to home wasn't a huge priority with him, the facilities, coaches and environment couldn't sway him into saying he was "N."

"I just wanted to look at it and see what it was like. It was great. A little cold, but the facilities were really impressive, and I just couldn't believe how nice everything was," Mason said. "The coaches, players and everything – it was great,"

Justin agreed, but he actually thought the temperature, which was in the 40s the day they left, wasn't as bad as he assumed it would be. "It gets that cold in Alabama , so I actually didn't think it was that cold. It definitely wasn't as cold as I thought it was going to be," he said. "But the whole experience surprised me. It was excellent, the coaches were great and the players don't go anywhere, unless they are together. It was all great to see."

Expectations are what they are, Rogers admitting that he was almost expecting to walk into a cornfield after he got off the plane. And Justin continued, reiterating about the players, what a tight bond they seemed to have. "One of my hosts was Larry Asante, and he's a really cool guy," Justin said. "But they were all cool. Everyone I met; I liked and they all had nothing but great things to say about the new staff and their time at Nebraska ."

Wald agreed, having met Asante as well, along with his host, sophomore cornerback Ryan Ford. Wald wasn't completely familiar with Nebraska , because, well, Alabama has a pretty historical tradition itself, but what he saw he liked. "It was great. It's a good program, and I liked everyone I met," he said. "Coach Pelini was really the only coach I knew that much about, because of his time at LSU. But the other coaches I met were all good guys."

Rogers still has one visit left in the books, a February 1st trip to see LSU. Wald doesn't know what he's going to do, but again wondered just what could happen with his recruiting now that he's holding an offer from a major football school.

Wald, as you would expect, is looked at as a safety and Rogers was told that he would get his shot at running back, the position he likes the best. However, Rogers did say that he could be looked at as a corner for the Huskers, and honestly, he just wants to play. "If it gets me on the field, I don't care what position I play. Running back would be nice, but I just want to play," he said.

Of the idea of playing together, both certainly warmed to the thought, but each said that the potential of doing that in no way would dictate where either chooses to go. As Wald said, "It's one of those things where it would be nice to play together. I mean, we have started together the last three years in high school and it would be nice to play with him again. But that's not going to be a factor in where I decide to go to school. It's just something which is nice if it works out that way."

Wald's timeline is as of yet, undetermined, but Rogers said that he'll announce what he's going to do on Letter of Intent Signing Day, which occurs February sixth.

Nebraska made an impact on both, though, that much seems pretty clear. "I really don't know what I am going to do, but I know I liked the trip a lot," Wald said. "Now, we'll just have to see what happens."

"It surprised me in a lot of ways, because some things you expect, some things you don't," Rogers said. "It was a great visit. Nebraska is definitely up there on the list."

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