Why Should You Care About D3 WR? Clay Does

Division III football is about a million miles removed from the SEC. Nonetheless, 6-foot-3 receiver Eric Rogers from California Lutheran offers some intriguing upside. We talked to him after his workout with Clay Matthews in our latest Packer Report exclusive.

Eric Rogers has the seal of approval from one important member of the Green Bay Packers.

Rogers, an intriguing Division III receiver from California Lutheran who had a pre-draft visit with the Green Bay Packers this week, has been working out alongside Clay Matthews and other pros at Proactive Sports Performance in Westlake Village, Calif.

"We've talked," Rogers told Packer Report on Friday. "We just got done running the sand dunes — a sand hill that we run — about an hour ago. He's definitely put in a good word with Green Bay, which was real big. A lot of the guys (on the Packers' staff) said, ‘Clay's been texting me about you and he said that you're a big guy and you work hard.' I thanked Clay for that. It definitely goes a long way when Clay Matthews puts himself out for you like that."

Rogers was a first-team All-American and the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's player of the year after a big-time senior season of 91 catches, 1,298 yards and 18 touchdowns. While he clearly didn't go up against elite competition, he did put up those gaudy numbers while playing with a broken hand sustained in the third game of the season. The training staff wanted him to play with a cast for six weeks. Instead, Rogers bought a bigger pair of gloves, wore some additional padding, and took Ibuprofen before the game and at halftime.

For his career, he owns school records with 220 receptions, 3,461 yards, 41 receiving touchdowns and 270 points.

So, how did a 6-foot-3, 206-pound receiver with a 4.50 clocking in the 40 and a 37-inch vertical jump at his pro day end up in Division III?

"In high school, I didn't play my junior year of football," Rogers said. "My first two years, I was a corner, and then I grew 3 to 4 inches that summer before my senior year. I wasn't used to my body. I was able to contribute to my team and I was still a starter, but I was 6-2, 165 and I was galloping like a horse. I wasn't smooth and I wasn't getting any YAC. I was just catching the ball and was more of a possession receiver. I didn't do any of those (high school) combines or anything."

Rogers adapted to his body and became a bigger and bigger threat. After catching 25 passes as a freshman, he contributed 62 as a sophomore. As a junior, Rogers caught 42 passes for 948 yards (22.6 average) and nine touchdowns. A few months later, at the school's pro day, Rogers measured in at 6-foot-3 and 186 pounds.

Between his production and his height, he had firmly placed himself on scouts' radars. Now, it was up to Rogers to heed coach Ben McEnroe's advice.

"Coach (Mac) comes up to me (after last year's pro day) and says, ‘If you really want to give this a shot, you'll have to put your mind to it and start working out and you've got to keep going and keep going with no breaks.' He kept saying that and I felt like he was doubting me but challenging me at the same time. He saw the potential in me and he wanted me to succeed, so I took it as a challenge and got to work."

The payoff was obvious at this year's pro day, which was attended by a Packers scout, with Rogers up to 206 pounds. He's been generating a lot of interest in the last month.

"It's been really exciting," Rogers said. "I didn't know much about the draft process. I was just working toward my pro day, and then after pro day, I thought that was it until the draft. Then (my agent, Joe Barkett) said some teams wanted me for visits and I was like, ‘Nah, I don't think I'll be able to go to any visits (laughs)' But I ended up going to Green Bay, and it was definitely eye-opening and humbling."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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