FRISCO, Texas — A high school quarterback for Arlington, Jahari Rogers is preparing for his college position of cornerback at The Opening Finals this week as he enters the final weeks before announcing his commitment.
“Man, The Opening is cool,” Rogers told Burnt Orange Nation’s Joe Hamilton. “I’ve been wanting to come here since I was little — seventh or eighth grade. Knowing that I’m actually here, it’s crazy. I’m getting to live out a dream, so it’s super cool.”
The high-level coaching staff for the Finals has included NFL legends like Jerry Rice, Ndamukong Suh, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, and Darrell Revis, among others, so prospects have an opportunity to learn technique and how to deal with success.
This year, New York Jets star and former Lewisville Hebron standout Jamal Adams spoke with the recruits, giving Rogers a chance to learn from Adams, as well as player counselors LSU safety Grant Delpit and Texas safety Caden Sterns.
On the recruiting trail, Texas and Florida are widely considered the top schools for the consensus four-star prospect and Rogers did take official visits to both this spring — he was in Gainesville in mid-May and then tripped to Austin in June for the Heat Wave recruiting event.
“Yeah, I’ve messed with both of them, really,” Rogers admitted.
However, Rogers did add that there are some “undercover” schools in his recruitment that he’ll reveal at some point, but he wasn’t ready to specify with schools. One possibility is Arkansas — Rogers took an official visit to Fayetteville in early May.
“I’m going to do it and people are going to be shocked that I’m doing it,” he said.
“The experience, I mean, it’s hard,” Rogers said of the recruiting process. “But at the same time, I love it, though — I’m just going to go to the school that’s best for me.”
For the Longhorns, the advantage of the big pool party at the Texas Heat Wave event was that it gave Rogers a chance to interact extensively with the players, who often provide perspective on the behind-the-scenes culture in a program, while the coaches deploy their recruiting pitches and attempt to build relationships. Since Rogers already knew the coaches and had heard their pitches, talking with the players was the most important part of his visit.
“What they told me was a lot of stuff that I needed to know,” Rogers said. “They helped me out, showed me a good time. I mean, it’s Texas. It’s in Austin... I want to know what the players think. It was good. The players all liked me — it was a good little visit.”
After head coach Tom Herman and his staff struggled recruiting the Metroplex at Houston and those issues continued until recent months, the Dallas-to-Austin connection started to heat up with the commitment of Duncanville quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson in early June. A pledge from 2021 Dallas Skyline wide receiver Quay Davis followed shortly thereafter.
All of a sudden, the recruiting efforts of the staff, and particularly the efforts of quality control assistant Ra’Shaad Samples, a Skyline alum, started to pay off.
Asked about the burgeoning pipeline, Rogers laughed. Will Rogers be a part of it?
Understandably, he had to play a little bit coy with his answer.
“I could be. It’s a possibility. We’ll see what happens. The Dallas-to-Austin thing is pretty cool. I know a lot of people who ride the wave, like I said, but we’ll see where people really wind up at the end of the day.”
Originally, Rogers planned on announcing his decision at The Opening on July 4, but with a spate of commitments already planned, the Arlington standout decided to push back his decision until the end of the month.
He plans on sitting down with his parents to discuss his decision, as well as call some coaches, then make his eventual choice public.
In the midst of a stretch that will play a large role in defining the quality of the 2020 Texas recruiting class, whether Rogers sides with Texas, picks Florida, or chooses an “undercover” school looms as yet another important decision for the Longhorns.