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Posted on Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 5 p.m.

Patience, flexibility pay off as Michigan cornerback James Rogers gets his turn as a starter

By Jeff Arnold

James Rogers is willing to contribute to the Michigan football team in any way. When the Wolverines were short on receivers after Rich Rodriguez installed the spread offense, Rogers made the jump from cornerback to provide another playmaking option.

If Michigan's special teams needs required a fill-in kick returner or if an injury created an opening in the defensive backfield, Rogers made himself available.

Regardless of his role, playing time came sparingly. But Michigan's resident utility man remained patient.

"I was always in the game and anytime anything happened, I would look out at the field and I'd be like, 'OK, when my chance comes, I know I've got to make the best of it," Rogers said this week.

Although Rogers appeared in all 12 games last season, he played mostly on special teams, making seven tackles. He switched from receiver to cornerback for one game, making one stop against Delaware State before being relegated to special teams.


Michigan senior cornerback James Rogers breaks up a pass in the end zone against Notre Dame's Michael Floyd. After three years of waiting and switching positions, Rogers is finally getting his chance to contribute.

Associated Press photo

But when Troy Woolfolk suffered a season-ending leg in practice last month, further depleting an already paper-thin secondary, Rogers again entered the picture. Although the circumstances surrounding the chance were far from ideal, Rogers knew this is what he had been waiting for.

"I just had to take it to my advantage," Rogers said.

After making his first career start against Connecticut, Rogers drew a tougher assignment last week against Notre Dame. Rogers faced the challenge of trying to slow Irish receiver Michael Floyd, who isn't just one of the nation's top pass-catchers, but a perennial big-play threat.

In the days leading up to Michigan's 28-24 win, pundits suggested Notre Dame could use Floyd and tight end Kyle Rudolph to expose Michigan's young secondary, forcing Rogers to step up his game.

Rogers helped limit Floyd 66 receiving yards on five catches, the biggest of which covered 17 yards. Rogers had two tackles and a pass break-up, enhancing the comfort level he has as Michigan's starting cornerback.

"I'm sure everyone had their questions like they do about any athlete who is getting their first time on the field," Rogers said. "But hopefully, I get some more competition like that week in, week out so I keep building my resume'."

After stepping into a starting role, Rogers has gained the trust of his coaches and teammates.

"He just had to put it all together," fellow cornerback J.T. Floyd said. "He's always had work ethic, he's always had good knowledge of the game and he's just had to gain some experience."

Rodriguez said this week the next step is for Rogers to build on the consistency he's shown against Connecticut and Notre Dame. Rogers realizes he remains a bit unproven.

"There's always been the weight on my shoulders, so when Troy went down, I knew as a senior I had to step up my abilities as a senior and make sure the younger players were ready to play," Rogers said. "But we just have to be relentless, and if something bad happens, we have to shake it off and keep going to play."

Jeff Arnold covers sports for and can be reached at (734) 623-2554 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @jeffreyparnold.



Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

Good work James! Persistence pays off.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 10:32 p.m.

it really is time to stop the bickering about the recruits of Carr versus RR. We have one team, as pointed out above, and it is what it is. RR will either take us to NC land or not, stay or be gone. And there is not one thing any of us can do about it, so let's stop the squabbling. I see us going anywhere between 6-6 and 9-3 depending on injuries, quick maturity and luck. This team is still very much a work in progress. Let the games continue. Go Blue.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 9:31 p.m.

Rogers has been a pleasent suprise so far. The whole team is a pleasent suprise so far.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 7:38 p.m.

It's great that we finally have a coaching staff that can get the most out of these Carr recruits and all of the other outstanding athletes on this team!! The quitters have left the team and the stars are starting to shine!! It's a great time to be a Wolverine fan!!


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 7:35 p.m.

Are the younger players ready to play, that's how you judge the leadership of a senior class of Michigan Men. Keep up the good work.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 7:31 p.m.

Some people are such drama queens...yes, once Carr's recruits are gone, we'll still have Fred Jackson as one of the main recruiters under both Carr and Rodriguez. Fred Jackson brought in many of our Texas recruits, and RBs, since he's been here, and will continue to do so (Dee Hart is the next possible good recruit to commit). Minus that, Roundtree, Odoms, Denard Robinson, Tate Forcier, Will Campbell, and one of the best Rodriguez recruits so far at Michigan -- Craig Roh. It is not surprising that Seniors are providing leadership, 3 And Out, because that is what is expected from veterans in any sport. I love how you attribute player success and leadership to Carr, when Carr retired before these players were either here only a year or were incoming recruits. I'm a Carr fan, because he won us a NC, but wow do some of you have a swollen ego for the Carr myth. How soon does one forget the last half of a tenure in which NC-caliber teams routinely underachieved to 8 win seasons? The changing of the guard happened for a reason, as is this continued roster overhaul. Accept your team, or you won't get much enjoyment out of the wins.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 6:47 p.m.

Good on ya matie. Sounds as though he has paid his dues and will become a valuable contributor for the team.

james Kurtz

Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 5:17 p.m.

Rogers is a flat out winner; nothing more, nothing less.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 4:38 p.m.

the current coaching staff did an excellent job with roger's, he is going to have a great year... it's a shame some people can't see the forest thru the tree's... GO BLUE!!!

3 And Out

Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 4:31 p.m.

Great job by Rogers stepping up when he finally gets his chance after the current coaching regime wised up after exhausting all other options. James is one of the Lloyd Carr recruits that is the foundation of players playing well on this team (Mouton, Shilling, Obi, Martin, Molk, Webb, Van Bergen, etc). It is going to be scary for this team as the foundation of talent that Lloyd left continue to graduate... anyway back to Rogers...he is playing very well at his true position CB and its a shame that he was jerked around by the current coaching staff....a good athlete and big corner.