I am taking another dive into Division II college football to see if I can unearth another gem. I’ve found a guy who has the potential to molded into an NFL receiver, Nate Rogers.
The 6’5″ wide receiver has all the height you would need at the next level and combines that with good speed and solid hands. He was a two sport athlete in high school playing both football and basketball, which can often give skill players a good edge at the next level.
His freshman year was quiet, making only seven catches but managing 130 yards and three touchdowns. But it is his junior year which made me take notice as he was named first team All-NSIC south division as he managed 44 catches for 577 yards and 12 touchdowns to tie the single season school record.
This year (his senior year) was the year that Rogers broke the thousand yard mark by hauling in 70 receptions for 1,009 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 91.7 yards per game. While you may look at his stats and see them as underwhelming, bear in mind that Wayne State is a run-heavy team, with 12 different guys running the ball and 391 rushing attempts on the year. When you compare this to the teams total receptions, they only had 191 receptions all season – meaning Rogers was responsible for 36.64% of all team receptions.
I am not sitting here and suggesting that Rogers will be a draft pick, as coming out of D-II means it is highly likely that he would go undrafted. But there are only six teams in the NFL without a single Division two player on their roster and there are currently 14 wide receivers in the NFL who played college at this level, including Adam Thielen, Tyreek Hill and Tyrell Williams. So it is always worth keeping an eye on the guys coming from this level as they could fall into a key role in the NFL just like these guys have.
I caught up with Nate to try and find out more about him.
So Nate, tell me a bit about yourself, where did you grow up?
I’m a 6’5 Wide receiver from South Sioux City, Nebraska; A city of about 15,000 people. A great community and I’m very proud to say I’m from there.
What brought you to Wayne State?
I felt like it was the best fit for me and it also felt like home. I loved the coaches and the plan they had for me to be successful here.
How old were you when you started playing football?
I played flag football and things like that growing up, but my senior year in high school was my first real season of football.
Growing up, did you always want to be a football player?
Actually, I wanted to be a basketball player growing up, it was all I did was play basketball. Things changed along the way though for sure.
What would you say is the highlight of your college career on the field?
Breaking the school record for receiving touchdowns in a career. (38)
On that note, what is your proudest achievement off the field?
Helping kids at our football camps and being able to be a positive role model for kids to look up to.
Who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
My entire family! Mother, father and brother, all very inspirational to me in many ways!
What aspects of your game do you think help you succeed the most?
My playmaking capabilities, my ability to jump and go get fade routes as well.
What would you say is the biggest challenge that you will face coming from Division 2 and trying to get in to the NFL?
A lot of people will say the competition level but there are still a lot of great teams and players in this league. There is definitely a lot of amazing talent in this league.
Are there any NFL players that you watch and try to model yourself on?
Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson are my favorite receivers of all time. Devante Adams, Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins are my current favorite receivers. I try to take bits and pieces from every receiver, learning from the best in the game is how you become great.
If you could play alongside any current or former NFL player, who would it be?
Randy Moss and Odell Beckham Jr.
Who would you say is the best player you have ever played alongside?
Zach Osborn, my quarterback for three seasons. Tonev Abraham, a receiver I played with in my freshman year and Tyler Hoppes, a tight end I played with for my freshman year as well.
What would you say makes you stand out among other wide receivers?
The combination of my height, athleticism and length. My hands, I feel like are some of the best too. I have long strides and that helps me cover a lot of ground as well. I feel like all those separates me from others.
Is there a specific NFL team that you have dreamed of suiting up for?
Not any specific team, I’d go play for anyone honestly. Growing up when I played Madden I just picked the team with the coolest colors!
What do you want our readers to know about Nate Rogers if they can take one thing from this interview?
I’m going to give everything I’ve got and I’m not going to stop until I get it. I have dreams and aspirations and I will do whatever it takes to reach them.
So when your rookie drafts are done in the off season, keep an eye out for this guy. If he makes it on to an NFL roster, he could be worth picking up in the right situation.
Thanks for reading, you can follow me on Twitter @DFF_JamesH for all sorts of shenanagins, including moaning about the officiating in the Steelers-Chargers game.