Ty Rogers had the picture perfect college football career when he jogged onto the field of Kyle Field against the Texas A&M Aggies on September 19, 2009.A powerful 6-foot-4, 292-pound Colorado native, Rogers had begun his junior year for the Aggies in much the same way his sophomore year had gone, with solid promise and continued improvement. Versatile and aggressive, the imposing lineman had just come off of a valiant effort at right tackle in preseason camp and was slated to start at right tackle before a back injury sidelined him for the season-opener at Utah.Now back at his starting right tackle position at Texas A&M, Rogers was ready to show the overconfident fans of College Station just how far the Utah State program had come in one offseason under new head coach Gary Andersen.Life had other plans for the Aggie lineman, however. Little did he realize that by the end of the evening the promise of his junior campaign would be cut short by a devastating injury, suffering a broken ankle and that his role on the Utah State football team would change dramatically. Removed from the field and the game he loved, Rogers faced an uncertain future as the Aggies flew back to Logan that weekend. But even as a long and tedious road to recovery stood in front of him, Rogers’ thoughts were focused on one thing and one thing only, making his team better.”I knew as soon as I got injured that it was a significant injury, and things could possibly change,” recalled Rogers, whose status remained uncertain coming into this past offseason.”It was something I was prepared for going into the season,” he continued. “I took an opportunity to talk to the team, and told them that whether I was a starter or second string, my goal was to make this team better and to make this program better because I’ve seen where it has come from to where it’s going.”The path traveled by the Utah State program over the course of the Gary Andersen era has been impressive. The Aggies improved their win total from 2008 in 2009, but more impressively, the team earned national respect for its prolific and record setting offense. Guided by Western Athletic Conference superstars Diondre Borel at quarterback and Robert Turbin at running back, Utah State also benefited from a physical and athletic offensive line.While he wasn’t a part of the play of that line on the field, Rogers was no less important in motivating the unit to its best offensive output in years. And although he continues to struggle with injuries through the first few games of his senior year, Rogers has embraced his role as a mentor and leader for Utah State’s other linemen. “He has done a very good job of understanding what his role is on the team,” said Utah State head coach Gary Andersen. “He fights every day to compete and comes out to play.”Andersen has seen enough of the game to know injuries like Rogers’ can be devastating, and can often lead to players walking away from the game. It makes him all the more proud of Rogers, who has turned his misfortune into opportunity and continued to play an active role with the program.”Going through this kind of injury is not easy,” Andersen explained. “There are some days where it was tough for Ty to be able to say, ‘what’s next? Am I even going to be able to play again?’ When you have an injury like that you really don’t know, but he has brought himself back and done a nice job.”For Rogers, the choice to stick with the program, starter or not, was an easy one. Wearing an “Inspire Greatness” shirt, a shirt he got with his fellow offensive linemen for winning the truck pull to benefit Special Olympics, Rogers talks openly about his love of the game and feeling of comradely with his teammates.”It’s about being a part of something bigger, and I was just prepared to help out a younger guy or a guy my age or whoever it needed to be,” explained Rogers. “I’ve been here long enough to know how things work, and I just need to do my best at what I can do.”Rogers was hoping to be a part of Utah State’s offense on the field in 2010, but his season has been disrupted once again by injuries. His presence on the sideline continues to be a welcomed asset for the Aggie coaching staff, but according to those who’ve seen how hard Rogers has worked this summer, his return to the lineup can’t arrive soon enough.”He will come on as the season goes, and we expect a lot from him; especially with his senior leadership,” said USU offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin. “He is an outspoken guy and a tough guy and brings that mentality to the offensive line. We want him back.”Why keep battling back, and why continue to devote himself to his team despite injury and an uncertain role on the field? According to Rogers, it’s the love of the sport, his university, and his teammates which keep him moving forward and staying positive.”I think first and foremost; it is the sport,” said Rogers on what inspires him. “It’s trying to make people better, and it has to be about the sport if you’re trying to make people other than yourself better. It comes from the love of my teammates – it’s respect, and it’s what you have to do if you’re in that position. Of course I love Utah State, but I think it stems from something much deeper than just a university or anything like that.”Rogers doesn’t know what the remainder of the 2010 season has in store for him, but he’s not without a plan following expected graduation in December. A journalism and communications major who has always aspired to be a sports reporter, he’s determined to apply the relentless passion, drive and determination that characterized his physical recovery into the next stage of his life.”I’ve got to start small, but just that football mentality makes me want to be the best at whatever I do,” Rogers said. “Whether that’s ESPN or wherever it takes me, I’d just like to be the best or somewhere up there.”
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