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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Watch List LB has Georgia tied for first

By Radi Nabulsi

Buford High School is one of the premier programs in Georgia. The Wolves have won eight championships in the last 12 years, the latest coming this past season after moving up to Class AAA and losing eight Division I players to graduation. College coaches drop in on Buford practices like someone was giving away free barbecue in the end zone. The University of Georgia coaching staff swings by often and it shows -- the Bulldogs have three Buford offensive linemen on scholarship: Dallas Lee, Kolton Houston and Josh Cardiello.

Mark Richt would like to keep the Buford pipeline open, and this time he is eyeing a linebacker.

ESPN Watch List outside linebacker Korie Rogers has offers from Auburn, Clemson, Florida and Penn State, among others. Georgia was one of the first schools to offer a scholarship to the 6-foot-1, 207-pound junior when he attended the Mark Richt 7-on-7 last summer. The offer might be 262 days old, but Georgia is still chasing after Rogers.

“I have Georgia and Clemson on top,” Rogers said. “I mean, I’m really open to anybody, but I see right now that they’re recruiting me the hardest and they’re showing me the most love, along with Tennessee and Auburn.”

Two of Georgia's staffers are courting Rogers the most.

“I hear from Coach [Bryan] McClendon and Coach [Kirk] Olivadotti. They’re just recruiting me, coming over here telling me how much they like me, and they need me and that I’m a priority to them. They say that I could really help out the defense with all that they are losing and that they’re looking for me.”

Georgia did not sign an inside linebacker in 2012, but the Class of 2013 has five inside linebackers trying to fill the vacancies left by Alec Ogletree, Christian Robinson and Mike Gilliard. Rogers is not sure if Georgia wants him at inside or outside linebacker, and although he prefers outside, he is open to either spot.

“If I was picking, I’d probably say outside, just because I feel like I’m fast and I can handle pass coverage well,” Rogers said.

That might be a bit of an understatement, as Rogers had seven interceptions last year. Clemson would like to land the strong cover linebacker as well.

“I’ve always liked Clemson, I guess,” Rogers said. “I kind of did grow up a fan. I didn’t follow it, but then again I’ve always like the idea of playing for them. But then again, I wasn’t a die-hard fan of any school, of any college.”

Rogers visited the Tigers of a different stripe last weekend.

“I went to Auburn this past Saturday,” Rogers said. “I liked the new coaching staff that they put together. Coach [Ellis] Johnson’s obviously a good linebacker coach. Coach [Charlie] Harbinson is the one recruiting me for this area.”

Auburn is trying to impress upon Rogers its need for linebackers as the Tigers rebuild what was a dreadful defense in 2012. The Volunteers have a similar message that they will try to convey when Rogers visits next month.

“I’m going to Tennessee on March 16,” Rogers said. “It’s a junior day. Coach [Tommy] Thigpen actually left Auburn. He was recruiting me last year at Auburn; now he’s recruiting me at Tennessee this year.

Former teammate Cardiello is also heavily recruiting Rogers. The offensive lineman is already enrolled at Georgia and he wants Rogers to follow in his footsteps.

“Oh yeah, he’s definitely telling me to come to Georgia,” Rogers said. “It’s my decision, not his, so I mean he can say all that but I take it as a joke, and I’m pretty sure he’s joking. He knows I’m doing what’s going to be best for me. So he’s joking around like, ‘Come on, man; come to Georgia.’ He laughs with it. It’s not like he’s trying to force me.”

Cardiello and Rogers were instrumental in the Wolves’ title run after honing their skills against each other in hot August practices at Buford.

“We went against each other,” Rogers said. “I had to do board drills with him -- when you get in a three-point stance, like two feet away from each other and just hit each other and drive your feet. We had a standstill. He’s a big man. My advantage was how quick my feet move, and his advantage was just him being so heavy and I couldn’t move him. He’s up around 275 pounds and I think back in season I was around 205-210.”

Rogers’ recruitment is not at a standstill. He recently picked up offers from Nebraska and West Virginia. He does plan to narrow his list eventually, but there are still a few schools from which he would like an offer.

“South Carolina, Ohio State, Louisville -- schools like that,” Rogers said.