Injury ends lineman’s season early


Sam Boyd

Junior offensive lineman Zach Rogers watches the team workout from the sideline. Rogers tore his ACL in a preseason game against Plano East.

The five linemen squat down.

Gloved fingers pressed down on the green turf, they are ready for the snap of the ball.

Quickly, the ball crosses into the hands of the quarterback and the group of linemen moves up. Number 75, who started on the left of the ball, screams across to the right side of the line. He reaches to grab and push back the opposite team’s linebacker, who quickly spins out of 75’s gloved grasp. 75’s body flails, legs lock — cleats stuck in the turf — as he tries to turn around. But the rest of his body just keeps going.

It’s the force of powerful momentum. After a popping crack, the remaining four linemen look down at their injured teammate.

They know something is wrong.

Junior offensive lineman Zach Rogers tore his ACL in August before school started during a scrimmage against Plano East. Now, the University of Arkansas commit has to sit out the entire season, which will put a toll on the team’s offensive line according to fans. This absence of football is huge for Rogers, given that he has been in the sport since he was eight.

“I grew up around [football],” Rogers said. “I’ve always dreamed of playing college football. It is something that has been a part of my life and being in Texas, it is a religion here.”

Rogers realized he loved football when he was unable to play the game in fourth grade due to an injury. He has also experienced football for years given that it is something that runs in the family.

“All my family has played,” Rogers said. “My older brother. My dad. [They] have all played. It is something that is almost expected. You just play football.”

Now Rogers has to deal with sitting on the sideline, waiting to recover from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear that ended this season for him. Sitting out is something that is difficult for Rogers, who loves football, but even he can admit there are some positives to not playing.

“I now have a new perspective and appreciation for the game,” Rogers said. “I am going to see the game of football from a different perspective. I watch film more than I ever had and I watch my teammates and see them make mistakes that I also make [when I can play]. I see how everything affects the game.”

But the question about how the offensive line would react is still present. However, the other players have quickly stepped up, not worrying about changing strategies.

“When one person goes down, it is the next person’s time to shine,” Rogers said. “So I’m down and it is a new person’s time to shine. It hurts to lose any player, but they made adjustments the next day, moved players into new positions and I think that now they are ready to go.”

Rogers is going to be out for six to seven months, repairing an ACL that he describes as “completely gone.” After several MRIs, Rogers’ focus has shifted from playing football to getting better for football next year. However, Rogers says he is not in significant pain, even for something that requires his patella tendon to be moved to make a new ACL.

“When it happened it hurt pretty badly,” Rogers said. “I thought I maybe bruised something. I knew something wasn’t right, but it did not hurt too badly. I don’t feel it when I am walking up and down stairs and at football practice l do some crazy things to try and stop myself after moving. I can tell it is there but it is not that bad. They said that your knee should feel 100 percent fine until you try to run or cut.”

Rogers hopes to be back in football shape by spring football season, which is around May. The lineman has to do a lot of squat type exercises while his team practices, which he said makes him unhappy, but he knows several people who have recovered, such as alumnus Dezmond Wortham, who could not play last season.

“I am also going to lose this year’s experience,” Rogers said. “I’m losing that junior year on the varsity team. Some people will have four years, and I will only have two. I knew several guys who have torn ACLs and I see them have great recoveries by working hard and now they have free rides to play football and that is what I want to happen to me.”

After next year, pending he stays healthy, Rogers will take his talents to Arkansas where he will hopefully get some time on the field, having chosen it over schools like Texas Tech, UCLA, Oklahoma and Baylor.

“I had a coach once tell me that I need to find a school that if I never touch the ball one time, I would still be happy,” Rogers said. “Arkansas was that place.”