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Bobby Petrino’s first football camp as the University of Arkansas head coach gets underway Sunday afternoon and lots of eyes will be on one player if he shows up.
That would be North Little Rock defensive end Anthony Rogers (6-5, 240, 4.7), who is a soft commit to Mississippi State and also has offers from Ole Miss, Tulsa and Baylor and is trying to make arrangements to be in Fayetteville for the three-day camp.
Rogers, ranked fifth in Hawgs Illustrated’s preseason Top 40 rankings of 2009 in-state prospects, is hoping an offer comes from the Razorbacks and says that could possibly change his course of destinations.
“Now I will say it is kind of funny or strange that Arkansas has not offered me yet while the old coach Houston Nutt has offered me for Ole Miss,” Rogers said. “But I am still interested in Arkansas and it could change my way of thinking if they do offer.
“I like what they have to offer up there and maybe it is a matter of that new staff just getting to know me and see me in action,” Rogers continued. “I certainly think about playing there in part because I would get to play again with (2008 Razorback signee) Zach Stadther.”
Rogers got a chance to look over the UA campus a couple of weeks ago on an unofficial visit – albeit a lot of the coaches were out on the road recruiting.
“I didn’t get to meet a lot of the coaches, but got to spend a lot of time with (UA defensive line) Coach (Bobby) Allen,” Rogers said. “I loved their weight room. It was the length of an entire football field. It was very impressive and that was my first time being on campus.”
Rogers missed the first five games of his junior season due to a wrist injury and then played the final five games with a cast on his hand.
“I really felt worthless having to stand over there on the sidelines and not being able to do anything to help the team,” Rogers said. “So when I did get a chance to play, I was really hungry to go out and make plays and make a difference.”
In those final five games, Rogers piled up 55 tackles while obviously being very productive for North Little Rock head coach Brad Bolding.
“He has great size and makes really big plays,” North Little Rock head coach Brad Bolding said. “We’re expecting really big things out of him this season. He has great size and can really run for a big kid, is a player that loves to hit and has a nose for the football. He is just an all-around good player and a class kid as well.”
Rogers was fully healthy for North Little Rock’s recent spring practice.
“Spring practice went really well and It felt great being out there and being healthy,” Rogers said. “Our team looked good. It made me even more ready for the season.”
One of the reason to look forward to the 2008 season is the Charging Wildcats’ addition of tailback Ardrin “Audi” Smith, a 5-11, 240-pound move-in from Cummings High in Burlington, N.C.
He was getting interest from several D-1 schools before tearing his ACL during a junior season in which he rushed for 750 yards and those schools are likely to be back when he shows he is fully healthy.
Smith rushed for 1,500 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore.
“We were all excited to see what the hype was about that first day of spring practice,” Bolding said. “He is the real deal.”
Smith should really help the North Little Rock offense according to Rogers.
“We held him out of the spring game because we didn’t want to get him hurt and wanted to have him ready to go for next season,” Rogers said. “He’s a very good football player.”
As is Rogers, who will be working to shore up his weaknesses over the summer and has already put in work in the weight room to get up to 240 pounds.
“I feel good about my strength and my ability to make plays,” Rogers said. “I need to work on my agility and staying low. Those are the things I am really working on.”