All-purpose James Rodgers wants more action

2009-09-29T23:30:00Z All-purpose James Rodgers wants more actionBy Cliff Kirkpatrick, Gazette-Times Reporter Corvallis Gazette Times

James Rodgers leads the Pacific-10 Conference in total yards.

And he's still not satisfied.

The junior wide receiver for the Oregon State football team catches passes, runs the ball, returns kickoffs and has added punt returns this season.

Now he wants to hit someone instead of being the one tackled all the time. So he asked coach Mike Riley to play him on the kickoff and punt coverage teams.

"Yes, sir, I told him that, and I'm serious," Rodgers said.

Riley laughed when he heard the request and told Rodgers he's doing enough for the team already. The chances are slim Riley will put him on one of those teams.

But don't think that's the end of the discussion for Rodgers. He was a standout defensive back at Lamar Consolidated High in Texas and played every down.

Could he be a player who never comes off the field for the Beavers? He continues to impress people with his ability and versatility.

"I don't know if you can wear James out," Riley said. "He loves it. The guy never takes a play off in practice. That's part of his makeup. I've never seen a guy like that, to do everything he does every day to get ready for the game. It's pretty neat."

Rodgers leads the conference in all-purpose yards with 181.5 a game, and is ninth in the nation. He also leads the Pac-10 in receiving yards per game at 88.0.

His brother, running back Jacquizz Rodgers, leads the conference in receptions with 8.0 a game. James is second with 6.75 a game.

"You can't ask for anything more out of him," quarterback Sean Canfield said. "He's a big part of our offense. James is a tremendous talent. Ever since he stepped on campus he has been a pro about every-thing."

Rodgers averages 25.7 yards on kickoff returns. That's better than 24.8 last season when he was all-conference as a special teams player.

The only thing Rodgers hasn't mastered is punt returning. He is averaging 7.3 on his three attempts but hasn't been comfortable.

Catching a ball high in the air with a crowd around and defenders ready to crush you is a unique experience.

"It's a tough thing to adapt to, but I'm getting better each week," Rodgers said.

When the Beavers draw up game plans each week, several plays are made for Rodgers. Opponents know he's coming but still can't stop him.

The fly sweep was developed two years ago to give him the ball. He wasn't ready to be a full-time receiver, so the Beavers just handed him the ball on a sprint while in motion and let him use his speed and moves.

During the last three seasons, Rogers has developed into a possession and big-play receiver. That gives the Beavers options in the offense in how to use him.

"What else do you want to do with him but give him the ball," Riley said. "I don't think he's burdened by it physically. He's productive. We need to, for our team's sake, get the ball in his hands, throwing it to him or handing it to him or returning kickoffs."

Rodgers enjoys being versatile in the offense. He approaches it like playing in the backyard with friends, but he's very serious about his craft.

That's why he wants to add tackling to his game.

"It's just the motivation to win," Rodgers said. "That's what keeps me going. And I want to do good for my teammates. I'm just part of the team."

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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