Former Columbia County football standout Steven Rogers got his moment in the sun last weekend in Tulsa, Okla.
Rogers, who enjoyed an outstanding prep career at Lakeside before spending his senior season at Evans, might be the best receiver to play in our county. As a junior for the Panthers, Rogers caught 63 passes for more than 900 yards.
Rogers transferred to Evans before his senior season, and he impressed Knights fans by catching 59 passes for 810 yards. He was dubbed the 54th best college prospect in Georgia by Superprep Magazine.
When it came time for Rogers to select a college program, he had plenty of schools to choose from. Wanting to play Division I football in a quality conference was a key reason Rogers signed with East Carolina.
ECU is located in Greenville, N.C., and for many years had been one of the top mid-major programs in the nation. However, at the time Rogers signed with ECU, the Pirates had logged a couple of tough seasons.
Rogers wanted to be part of the team's resurgence and also loved the idea of playing against the nation's best football teams. So he left for ECU in 2003.
Rogers arrived in Greenville to find an ECU club loaded with talented receivers. He would spend 2003 red-shirting, and 2004 did not bring much playing time, either.
Despite this lack of playing time, Rogers drew praise from his coaches for his hard work and unselfishness on the scout team. Couple that with impressive spring workouts, and it appeared Rogers was on the verge of a big sophomore season.
The Pirates also had a new coach, former South Carolina offensive coordinator Skip Holtz (son of legendary coach Lou Holtz). Unfortunately, as the 2005 season got under way, Rogers still found himself on the ECU sidelines waiting on his chance in the spotlight.
That chance came last week.
The team was heading to Tulsa for a road game. His family, faithful supporters of the ECU program, had decided not to make the trip - that is, until they got a call from Steven to let them know he was in the starting lineup.
Rogers' parents scurried to set up flight arrangements and tickets for the game, and they were in the stands when their son started his first college game.
The outcome was not what ECU fans had hoped for, as Tulsa beat the Pirates 45-13, but Rogers played well.
He caught two passes for 27 yards vs. the Golden Hurricanes and at press time he was set to start in ECU's next game in Huntington, W.Va., against Marshall.
Finally, it appears his hard work and patience is starting to pay off.
Do not be surprised if the other ECU wide outs have a tough time getting him out of the starting lineup.
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