Gary Rogers: QB U Prototype

BY DAY TWO OF spring workouts, Quarterback U's future behind center was looking good. Fledgling signal caller Gary Rogers was suddenly turning heads. With starter Josh Swogger sidelined, the redshirt freshman out of Mukilteo, Wash., seized the opportunity. At 6-6 and 228 he's hard to miss. Combine that size with solid decisions and accurate passes and you have something to cheer about. As WSU's spring season came to a close, Rogers had showed why he was dubbed "The Prototype" in high school.

Lest you think the moniker was simply the byproduct of a community's pride, consider that before his senior year at Kamiak High, Rogers stood 6-5 1/2 and checked in at 230 pounds. He ran a 4.7 in the 40 and boasted a 31-inch vertical leap. And, of course, he had a thunderbolt for an arm.

Washington State was already becoming very familiar with Rogers by the time he put up nearly 1,500 yards and 15 TDs his junior season -- despite working in a run-dominated offense. The following year, at WSU's Junior Day, Rogers was offered a scholarship. He accepted on May 4 and became one of the earliest verbals in program history.

As a prep senior in 2003, Rogers led his young Kamiak squad -- the Knights lettered 10 sophomores -- to an 8-3 record, throwing for another 1,500 yards and 12 TDs. Recruiting analysts ranked him among the top 30 prep QB prospects in the nation.

Despite the talent, Rogers said he had miles to go to elevate his play to the faster college game. "Watching me on film then and now, I feel like a completely different player," he says.

His progress got a major boost last fall when Swogger was lost for the season with injury. Rogers didn't have to burn his redshirt, but the Cougars would have been forced to had Alex Brink gone down as well. Moving up to No. 2 on the depth chart gave Rogers reps with the first and second units that he otherwise wouldn't have had.

Over the 26-day spring session Rogers continued his development. His accuracy -- particularly on deep passing routes -- was excellent. And he showed better command of the offense.

"The way he's starting to pick things up, he looks like a pretty talented kid," said coach Bill Doba after a second scrimmage in which Rogers went 15-for-28 for 163 yards and 3 TDs. With Swogger still recovering from foot surgery, Rogers was the beneficiary in both practice and live action as the No. 2 behind Brink. In the scrimmages, Rogers was 40 of 78 for 425 yards and 4 TDs.

"I thought it went really well for me," says Rogers. "I learned a lot throughout the whole experience, being my first spring and all...I got a ton of reps, which I think will help me a lot. Before I had to stand back and watch, and now I was able to get in there and do it."

ASKED FOR COMMENT as WSU wrapped up the spring on players who surprised the coaches, Rogers was the first one Doba mentioned. He also noted there came a point when Rogers' improvement was no longer a surprise, not when it becomes commonplace. But Rogers also knows work remains.

"I'm just going to work hard in the summer," he said. "I'm going to work. Run, throw, study my playbook, work on my feet. For me coming in last August, it really helped this spring to get more familiar with the offense -- to be patient and just let it come to me more."

Rogers and his teammates will be back in Pullman for the Cougs' voluntary summer program which begins June 5. About 90 percent of the players will be in Pullman for the summer -- a fact not lost on Rogers.

"I think that's huge," he said. "Having guys come back -- it's voluntary but mostly the whole team shows up. It gives you more of the team feeling with all the guys together, working hard. Everybody here wants to achieve the same goals."

  • Rogers said the lessons learned from WSU quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach have been invaluable. "That's one of the reasons I picked this school -- because of the coaches," said Rogers. "And definitely coach Rosenbach. He's been in the NFL and I've already learned a ton from him. He's a great guy, and a great guy to talk to. He's a coach, but he's also like a friend."

  • Rogers was named the most valuable quarterback at Washington State's team camp in summer 2003. He served as Kamiak's team captain both his junior and senior years. His prep coach said he was fated to be a Coug. "We knew when he was coming out here as a seventh-grader that Washington State was his school," Kamiak coach Dan Mack told Carter Strickland back when Strickland covered the Cougs. "He's a kid who wants to be at Washington State."

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