OAK PARK, Mich. — A week ago Monday, Michigan had something of an unassuming visitor to Schembechler Hall on an unofficial trip. Just — you know — your average, run of the mill, five-star, the top player at his position and the top player in the state of Michigan in the 2020 class.
2020 Oak Park (MI) five-star offensive guard Justin Rogers is rated by the 247Sports Composite as the top OG and the 14th-ranked player nationally. He made a little trip to Ann Arbor eight days ago, and yet another just recently.
“I was there Sunday, too,” Rogers told WolverinesWire. “I went up there Sunday. We were really just looking at football. I was up there watching football, for real.”
But he’s doing a bit more than that — he’s building a relationship with the man who would be his new coach in Ed Warinner.
There was a little uncertainty for Rogers as it pertained to Michigan. Things were discombobulated on the field and then, in a flash, the men recruiting him were doing so from other schools.
In the meantime, schools like Ohio State and Georgia swooped in, and nearly garnered an early commitment from the elite-level prospect.
But now, with some sense of stasis having returned to the halls of Schembechler, Rogers went from feeling lukewarm on the nearest Power Five program to his residence to warming up to the idea of playing close to home.
As he states, things cooled off between Rogers and Michigan, “because of the relationship I had with the other coaches, like Coach Frey and Coach Drevno,” he said. “Coach Frey – he went back to Florida State; and Drevno – he’s at USC. I never knew the new O-line coach. Me and him are building a good relationship. We’re talking on a daily basis right now.”
Rogers knows that Warinner is a good coach — he’s done his homework there. As he says, “He’s a great coach — he can get people to the next level.”
But it’s also that he doesn’t feel pressured into anything with him. There isn’t an urgency to get him to make a decision or even come to campus. It’s becoming more of a fruitful relationship between the two that goes beyond just: Come to Michigan.
“Have fun with the process,” Rogers says of Warinner’s message to him. “No ‘come up and visit.’ Anything I need help with, he’s like, ‘I’m a phone call away. Just reach out and talk to me.’”
But, that doesn’t mean that the other schools out there are relenting in their pursuits.
Ohio State is the 247Sports Crystal Ball leader with 78% of the vote, while Georgia has the remaining 22%. Both were among the schools that are working Rogers the hardest as of current.
The high school junior has an astounding 39 reported offers, and a wide variety of those suitors are coming at him hard. As a result, instead of making an early decision as he had planned before, Rogers is going to take his recruitment the distance, he says.
“The schools that are looking at me – I wanna say Georgia, Clemson, Alabama, USC, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State – I could keep going,” Rogers said. “I just feel like I’m gonna take my time with it, for real. Ain’t no rush. I’m just gonna wait until the last minute to make a decision.”
And he really isn’t in a rush. He plans on continuing his tour of unofficial visits, with his trip this Saturday to Austin to witness the USC – Texas rivalry in person. Then, next week, he’s off to Knoxville for Florida at Tennessee.
There isn’t a determining factor as of current that Rogers is looking for, but one thing is absolutely key to him: academics. He’s confident that, wherever he goes, he’ll be a factor on the football field. So, he’s adamant about finding a place that allows him to pursue paths outside of football.
“Right now, it’s really just based on academics,” “I can go and start anywhere. I’ve just gotta keep working.”
He says he’ll study “probably Communications or Sports Medicine, but Sports Medicine takes up a whole lot of time.”
The former is something that was pitched strongly to him by the staff down in Columbus (OH), and a career path that’s piqued his interest. But that doesn’t mean that the Buckeyes have gained a leg-up because of that revelation, he says.
“I went on a visit to Ohio State,” Rogers said. “They had (internships and jobs) in place at like ESPN headquarters. They sent a couple kids out to the Nike headquarters for like broadcasting and stuff.
“Every school is doing it, so you can’t just base your opinion off that, now. Everybody’s really in the same ballpark.”
As he’s been going through the process, Rogers has gotten progressively wiser. He’s been recruited by college programs since he was in eighth grade, and has had offers from major programs not too long after.
He’s learned a lot throughout, most importantly, not to take his recruitment too seriously.
“Just really be patient and just sit back and let everything come to you,” Rogers said. “It’s going to come to you, just sit back and have fun with it. Just play football and worry about school.”