Rogers Taking Charge At Left Tackle

Oct. 17, 2001

Fourth down used to be Jacob Rogers' favorite down.

That was when he used to do some of his best work in high school, averagingover 40 yards per punt for Oxnard (Calif.) High.

Now, he's starting at left offensive tackle as a redshirt sophomore for USCand trying to prevent fourth down from rearing its ugly head.

He's come a long way since becoming a Trojan. He joined the team in thespring of 1999 as a bit of an anomaly-a 6-6, 235-pound tight end who couldalso punt.

Two years later, he's an offensive lineman who looks the part: 300 poundswith long arms. Though he's a promising prospect on a young offensiveline, there are still times when he looks longingly at the special teams.

'I kind of miss punting,' said Rogers. 'Every once in a while, I messaround with it. It's something that's hard to do after putting on all theweight that I have. My first spring here I was able to punt pretty well.Then I went from 235 to 265 pounds and it just wasn't the same.'

Gaining so much weight so fast must have been a shock to his body, becauseRogers has had a variety of injuries and surgeries on his shoulders and hipso far in his young career. In fact, he became so frustrated by hisinjuries that he switched numbers from 72 to 77 this season.

'My number last year was also (former USC tackle) Matt Welch's number,'said Rogers. 'He had a few shoulder surgeries so I figured it (No. 72) wasbad luck.

'It's been tough with all the injuries. It seems like whenever I finishany kind of football season, I get operated on. It keeps me from being inthe weight room as much as I should. But this year I feel the best that Iever have.'

He's getting a chance to show his stuff, too. Rogers has started everygame for USC this season at the all-important left tackle spot and has donea solid job. Being a former tight end, he's brings a healthy dose ofathleticism to his position.

'My strength is my footwork,' said Rogers. 'Coming from a tight endbackground, I have pretty good feet. It helps me to stay in front of theguys a little better.'

Rogers doesn't miss tight end as much as he misses punting, though. Whenhe saw the opportunity to switch over to the offensive line, he jumped atit.

'I always admired the USC offensive line tradition growing up,' saidRogers. 'There has been a lot of great players who have worn my number,like Anthony Munoz and Ron Yary. I admire all those guys and what they'vedone at this school. I came in as a tight end, but I saw the opportunitythat was presented and I decided to make the move to help the team.'

Rogers was a fast learner and made an immediate impact during his firstspring on the line. It helped that one of his predecessors at left tackle,NFL first-rounder John Michels, was there coaching him.

'My first spring at tackle was when I started getting the hang of it,' saidRogers. 'Michels was there that spring (as a volunteer assistant) and hehelped me out tremendously. He would sit back and give me pointers rightafter a play. He was fresh out of the league so he had a lot to teachme. It really helped me get my foot in the door.'

USC seems to have established a foot in the door with players from VenturaCounty, with Rogers being part of a recent wave of Trojans from that area.

'(Fullback) Chad Pierson came down right before me,' said Rogers. 'Then Icame down, then (receiver) Keary Colbert and (linebacker) BobbyOtani. There's a lot of good players from up in that area and they arestarting to get a little recognition.'

With Oxnard being so far from city life, Rogers turned much of hisattention growing up to hunting and fishing.

'I hunt and fish a lot with my dad,' said Rogers. 'I love to fish down inSan Diego for tuna. This summer we went albacore fishing and we caughtalmost 200 Albacore tuna. We filled up the freezer. As for hunting, Ilike to hunt birds. Quails are my favorite. I'm a pretty good shot, butmy dad's a great shot. It's really humbling going hunting with him.'

In the meantime, Rogers' job is to hunt opposing pass rushers. It's a taskthat he enjoys.

'I get a lot of speed rushers on my side,' he said. 'It's challenging, butI accept that challenge and I like it. It's important to stick tofundamentals or they will get around the edge on you.

'You just have to go out there and have the attitude that you are going tobeat the guy across the way from you on every play. He's going to havethat attitude against you, so it's just a matter of who's going to doit. It's his job to beat you and your job to beat him.'

The more Rogers wins that battle, the less fourth downs the Trojans willhave to contend with.

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