Heading into the USC Trojans’ second scrimmage of fall camp on Friday in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Darreus Rogers said that he knew he was going to have a big day.
“I told Nelson [Agholor] before the game, ‘I’m going off today,’ ” the freshman wide receiver said.
And that’s precisely what he did. With star USC receiver Marqise Lee on the sideline, Rogers hauled in nine receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns, making a huge statement as he tries to stake claim to the role as the Trojans’ No. 3 receiver in 2013.
“I just knew it,” Rogers said. “We had a script and I just knew every play. I knew it was coming to me today, and that I just had to catch the football.”
Standing 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Rogers possesses a unique blend of size, athleticism and big, strong hands that he utilized to perfection during the 68-play scrimmage. Two plays, in particular, caught everyone’s attention.
On the first, Rogers made a tough grab in traffic in the middle of the field before darting away from two defenders for a 49-yard pick-up. A little later, with the Trojans lined up at the 3-yard-line, he leaped high and snagged a pass from Cody Kessler away from cornerback Kevon Seymour in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
“If the ball is in the air, my mindset is just to come down with it,” Rogers said. “Catching the ball is just about focus. When the ball is in the air, keep your eye on it, and come down with it. Don’t worry about anything else. If you catch it or not, you’re going to get hit, so you might as well catch it and get hit so you get something out of it. “
Having first showed signs of promise this past spring as a mid-year enrollee, Rogers came into fall camp in tremendous shape, and despite a recent undisclosed injury that forced him to miss a short amount of time on the field, he’s continued to make strides throughout fall camp and shined whenever given the opportunity.
“The game is starting to slow down for me, so I’m just coming out here and learning the plays, and it’s going back to how it was in high school,” said Rogers, who made 64 catches for 1,251 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Carson (Calif.) in 2011. “It’s going really good for me right now. I’m just coming out here being focused. My mindset is just to compete and to be the best. I just want to show people what I can do, and catching the ball is what I do.”
With his performance on Friday, Rogers appears poised to make an instant impact this fall for the Trojans – good news for an offense that will have just five scholarship wide receivers. But with less than two weeks remaining before USC opens up at Hawaii on Thursday, Aug. 29, he knows that he still has more to prove, and he’s not about to let up.
“I want to lock down that No. 3 spot, move on up and just do great things here,” Rogers said. “I just want to keep getting better.”