Land of 10 has embarked on a series of Next Generation articles, a project that aims to bring our readers greater insight into the Class of 2018 signees. Land of 10 Nebraska writer Erin Sorensen is visiting members of Nebraska’s incoming freshman class to show you more than 40-yard dash times and recruiting rankings. What follows is a sneak peek at our upcoming profile on defensive end signee Casey Rogers.
AVON, Conn. — You would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like Casey Rogers. Spend a day with Nebraska’s defensive end signee and you can see why.
Rogers, a postgraduate student at Avon Old Farms in Avon, Conn., is a friend to all. As he passes a student in the quad, Rogers gives him a smile and asks how he’s doing. The student is a freshman, and Rogers proudly shares how that student could probably take apart a camera and put it back together in 20 minutes.
That conversation leads into one on Nebraska punter Caleb Lightbourn, whom Rogers has met and seen his room in Lincoln, Neb. When presented with new details that Lightbourn is known to solve a Rubik’s Cube behind his back in under 60 seconds, Rogers lights up.
“I remember he had like 20 Rubik’s Cubes in his room,” Rogers told Land of 10.
That’s why Rogers is so likable. He remembers a lot of things and whether he realizes it or not, he uses his memory to build connections with those around him. His attention to the details of those he knows is also exceptionally endearing.
Bill Mella, a math teacher and the head football coach at Avon Old Farms, calls Rogers genuine. So much so, Mella has only one way to summarize the 6-foot-5 and 260 pound defensive end from Syracuse, N.Y.
“The best way I can say it is that I would be proud to allow my daughter to marry him,” Mella told Land of 10. “That sums it up right there.”
Mella isn’t alone. Faculty member after faculty member gushed about Rogers, wishing for more time with him. Having spent only one year at Avon Old Farms, it’s hard to imagine the impact Rogers may have left had he been a student there longer.
He may never had needed it, though. When Rogers graduates on May 27, he already knows it will not be the last time he walks on campus at Avon Old Farms. He already plans to return as an alumni in four years and promises to visit everyone who expressed their sadness over his impending departure.
It’s not only Rogers’ genuine interest in others that makes him special. It’s also his willingness to try new things.
In fact, with only a few weeks left in Avon, Conn., Rogers has decided he’d like to join the Nimrod Club. According to the Avon Old Farms website, the Nimrod Club allows a young man “to think beyond himself to the lasting impact he can have on this earth. With his team of fellow laborers and skilled staff, he experiences the gift of building a lasting legacy – such as a pavilion; or, he simply knows a fellow brother can enjoy his walk down to Beaver Pond because he groomed the trail before him.”
Rogers has already completed two activities on his way to joining the club, including a wood-chopping event. He has three more events to go; one includes a 6 a.m. wake-up call on a Saturday morning.
However, when Rogers talks about the Nimrod Club, it’s not just about the club itself. It’s about the people. As he discusses the details of joining, he pauses to reflect on a fellow student already in the club. It’s someone he doesn’t think he would have gotten the chance to know if it hadn’t been for the Nimrod Club, so he’s thankful for that opportunity.
That’s the thing about Rogers. Even in the stories about himself, he often turns them around to reflect on others. He’s proud of his friends, his teammates, his coaches and his teachers. There are countless people Rogers would love to introduce a newcomer to, but often not enough time to make it happen.
His love for others also translates into his willingness to step up and help. Whether that’s donating a few dollars to someone in need or volunteering his time, Rogers will do it. It’s why Rogers got involved with The Prevention Network as a junior at Westhill (N.Y.) High School to advocate against drinking and driving.
He also envisions his status as a Nebraska football player will help him accomplish more for others, too.
“If I can help out in any way, shape or form for that college or that person, I’m willing to do it,” Rogers said. “It’s cool, too, because as a Division I football player, you kind of have that picture of everyone knowing who you are and if I can take that spotlight and use it to do good, it makes it that much better.”
If you spend a day at Avon Old Farms, you’ll hear many people tell you how special Rogers is. They’ll tell you Nebraska is getting a good one. They’ll tell you they’re sad to see him go. In turn, Rogers will thank that person for shaping him into who he is today.
In Rogers’ world, he’s the product of every person he’s met. That includes more than just friends and family, but also the 90,000 Nebraska fans that showed up for a spring game in April. It also includes a Nebraska beat reporter who showed up at Avon Old Farms with no idea what to expect but departed with every possible piece of literature on the New England preparatory school and an offer to scrounge up more to make her writing a little easier.
Yes, it’s hard not to like Casey Rogers.