From the cafeteria to the football field, Eric Rogers made his mark at CLU

Eric Rogers finished his career at Cal Lutheran as the all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and total scoring. 

Photo: Karen Quincy Loberg, Ventura County Star

One particular line at the Cal Lutheran cafeteria grew longer and longer every Sunday and Monday during the fall.

It seems many students wanted to have their dining card swiped by a certain All-American wide receiver.

Eric Rogers has likely been the most popular cashier on campus throughout his career at CLU.

"By the third or fourth game of the season, they would come in and say, 'Oh, my gosh. Are you Eric Rogers?' " Rogers said. "It's pretty cool because I really enjoy talking to everyone and getting to meet all the people I don't normally meet during the week, like the underclassmen. I am going to miss that."

Rogers will be hard to replace in the cafeteria and on the football field at CLU.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Duarte native solidified his legacy in the record books.

Rogers is the CLU career record-holder in receiving yards (3,461), receiving touchdowns (41), receptions (220) and total scoring (270).

He caught 91 passes for 1,298 yards and 18 touchdowns this season to set the program's single-season records for receiving touchdowns, receptions and total scoring (126).

"I definitely didn't expect to do such an amazing job," said Rogers, The Star's Male Athlete of the Fall Season. "I felt like I had the ability to do at least half of it, but with the help of all the coaches, players and fans, I just embraced everything and played as hard as I could to the last game."

The next quest for Rogers is securing a spot in professional football. He recently started training to prepare for a pro day in front of NFL scouts in the spring.

"My dream is play in the NFL, but my goal is to at least reach the Canadian Football League," Rogers said. "I just want to play anywhere really. Until they tell me I'm not good enough, I want to see how far I can go."

Rogers has met with an agent and plans to begin training at Proactive Sports Performance in Westlake, where NFL stars Clay Matthews, Dwight Freeney and Antonio Cromartie spend their offseasons.

Proactive Executive Director Ryan Capretta is creating a workout schedule that fits around Rogers' class schedule at CLU.

Most high-level prospects have already graduated or don't remain in school while training for the draft.

Capretta's main emphasis with Rogers will be his 40-yard dash time.

"The biggest thing for him being a D3 guy is running faster with the frame he has to make him the most marketable," Capretta said. "Obviously with the success he had at Cal Lu, he can play the position and an NFL coach is not going to be worried about routes. They can teach him what he needs. They want to see if he has the wheels to play at the next level."

Rogers has a lot of ground to cover for such a short distance.

"I have never been timed in a 40 before, even out of high school," Rogers said. "Some guys go to camps and do the 40 and cone drills. I haven't done any of that, so I am getting more familiar with those type of exercises."

Over the last year, Rogers has become more aware of the dedication required to reach his potential.

"I really just relied on the God-given talent I was blessed with and didn't do any extra work until last summer," Rogers said. "I always thought talent will you get you where you need to go. But now I know that hard work beats talent if talent isn't working hard. I am trying to have both to give myself my best chance."

Even the Christmas gifts Rogers received this year are symbolic of his changed mentality. He asked his mom for a blender so he could make protein and recovery shakes.

But if Rogers is invited to an NFL rookie camp, it would present an interesting dilemma. The reporting date conflicts with CLU's graduation ceremony.

"If it does happen, I will definitely go to rookie camp even though it's a big deal in my family to be the first one to graduate," Rogers said. "But maybe I can talk CLU into allowing my mom to walk for me and get my diploma. That would even be better."

Just having to consider such an option is something Rogers couldn't have imagined when he first arrived at CLU.

"I know that anyone on my team would probably trade anything to be in the place I am, and I want to enjoy going through the experience," Rogers said. "I feel like I am doing it for them and for my family. Hopefully I can take a few Kodak pictures and keep them forever."

--- Published in the Ventura County Star on Dec. 30, 2012