2. James Rodgers (2007-2011)
One of the smallest receivers in Beavers history, James Rodgers was also one of the most dangerous, defeating opponents with jet sweeps, long receptions, and kick returns. Where his younger brother Jacquizz used strength to break tackles, James used pure elusiveness and speed. The five-year receiver could take a short bubble screen and avoid half a defense en route to the end zone. During his time at OSU, head coach Mike Riley used Rodgers as the ultimate weapon of victory, like a Swiss Army Beaver, which made Saturday’s infinitely more entertaining.
Signature Game #1 - 2007 Civil War
The annual Civil War game between Oregon and Oregon State is one of the nation’s fiercest rivalries. The players don’t like each other, and the fans straight up hate each other. The games are always exciting, although there have been a few blowouts over the years.
James Rodgers definitely had more statistically impressive games during his career at Oregon State, but one of the quietest games was actually the most important. During the 2007 Civil War, the exciting freshman receiver only had two receptions for nine yards, but he was undeniably important as a rusher. Rodgers carried the ball five times for 45 yards, including possibly the best rushing attempt of his college career. The Beavs and Ducks were tied up in double overtime, both desperately needing a win. Quarterback Lyle Moevao dropped back and handed the ball to Rodgers on the signature jet sweep. Rodgers rounded the corner, saw open field, and outran the Ducks defenders en route to a 25-yard touchdown to put the Beavs ahead for good.
This play is obviously important in that it propelled the Beavs to a win over their hated rivals, but it also stands the test of time because the Civil Wars since have not gone Oregon State’s way. It’s been nine years since the Beavs beat the Ducks, and the team is in desperate need of a play of that caliber to put them over the top.
Signature Game #2 - 29-27 Victory Against Arizona in 2010
Looking to avoid the dreaded 2-3 start for the third straight year, Ryan Katz and the Oregon State Beavers headed to Arizona with hopes of defeating the undefeated Wildcats. These dreams were realized as James and Jacquizz Rodgers paired with Katz to form an unstoppable trio, leading the Beavs to a 29-27 victory and a 3-2 record.
As expected, James Rodgers was quarterback Ryan Katz’s favorite target on the day, constantly shaking Arizona defenders with his speed. The first touchdown of the game was a 33-yard reception in the corner of the end zone after Rodgers outran the cornerback and somehow made the catch in the glaring sunlight, making sure to tap his toes in the process. The touchdown gave the Beavs an early 7-0 lead, which they wouldn’t relinquish.
Of course, this is Rodgers we are talking about, and he was nowhere near finished. On third-and-four late in the first quarter, the Wildcats sent seemingly the entire team after Katz on a blitz. Katz barely got the ball away as he was taking the hit, Rodgers caught the pass on a crossing route at the original line of scrimmage, and somehow broke the tackle. What should have been a massive sack or a reception of no yards actually turned into a 32-yard gain because of Rodgers’ balance and big-play ability.
On a day dominated by the Rodgers brothers, James had 7 catches for 102 yards and a 154 all-purpose yards all in the second quarter before going down with a season ending knee injury.