Jetta Fraser / The Blade
Brad Rogers did more than enough in Central Catholic's offensive backfield through the first half of last season to impress the Iowa University coaching staff to the point he received a scholarship offer from the Big Ten university.
Rogers, a 5-foot-10, 225-pound junior, verbally committed to the Hawkeyes program on Monday afternoon, becoming the first member of Iowa's 2009 recruiting class.
The fact that a high ankle sprain limited him to playing in Central's offensive backfield for only five games didn't affect the Hawkeyes' interest in recruiting him to eventually compete for a spot in their backfield. He rushed for 634 yards on 133 carries, including 12 touchdowns, before suffering the injury.
"He doesn't have a lot of carries in high school but it's what he's done with the carries," Central coach Greg Dempsey said. "He's an impressive back."
Rogers, who has another year of high school to complete, became the first player under Dempsey's watch to make such a commitment to a major Division I program while still in his junior school year. Former Central standout Dane Sanzenbacher verbally committed to Ohio State University two years ago during the summer months between his junior and senior school years, according to Dempsey.
"There were quite a few schools showing interest [in Rogers], but Iowa just jumped on it really quick," Dempsey said.
Ohio State, Indiana, Toledo and Bowling Green State University were among the schools that had shown interest in Rogers, who missed a total of three games due to injury. A two-way player for the Irish, Rogers finished out the season playing solely on defense as one of the Irish's starting linebackers. He recorded 56 tackles, including three sacks, as one of Central's top defenders.
"He was able to play on defense with the high ankle sprain," Dempsey said. "On defense you're not going to have anyone tackle your legs. We made a decision it's better to have him on defense than to not have him playing at all."
Rogers' decision to commit early was due in part to Iowa's desire to use him at tailback. Ohio State was looking at him as a fullback.
Getting the verbal commitment to Iowa out of the way figures to make Rogers' senior season less stressful knowing his college plans are in order. So will healthy ankles.
"Brad will get plenty of touches next season," Dempsey said.
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