Hal Lamb has seen three decades of high school football. So has his brother, Bobby, the head coach at Furman University.
This season, Bobby Lamb confirmed what Hal, the head coach of Class AA runner-up Calhoun, had already decided for himself about his star player, Da’Rick Rogers.
“My brother saw A.J. Green play in high school and he saw Da’Rick in the playoffs and he said he’s every bit as good as A.J. was,’’ Hal Lamb said. “He said those were the best two high school receivers he’d ever seen.’’
Rogers’ regular season made him a contender for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s all-class player of the year. The playoffs put him above all others and secured the award.
Rogers, who has verbally committed to Georgia and is rated among the top 50 prospects in the country by every recruiting service, set the state’s single-season record for receiving yards this year with 1,641, breaking the 2007 mark of Habersham Central’s Tavarres King by seven yards.
Rogers accumulated 707 of his yards – he averaged 141.4 per game – in his five playoff games, during which he caught 37 passes, 10 for touchdowns. He scored five other touchdowns in the postseason, two on runs from scrimmage, the others on returns of a kick, an interception and a fumble.
In Rogers’ final game, a 13-10 loss to Buford for the championship, Rogers scored Calhoun’s lone touchdown but was limited to nine catches and 81 yards, enough to break a state record but not enough for a title.
Otherwise, Rogers dominated every round and left most opposing coaches giving him the ultimate praise.
“He’s the best high school football player I’ve seen in 17 years of coaching,’’ said Lovett’s Mike Muschamp after Rogers’10-catch, 217-yard game in the semifinals, a 49-41 Calhoun victory. Rogers scored three touchdowns and blocked a punt in that game.
“He caught only three balls downfield and the rest were behind the line of scrimmage that he turned into 55-, 45- and 35-yard touchdowns,’’ Muschamp said. “That’s special. And that was against a defense giving up 12-14 points a game. ... In every film we had, he was going over guys to get balls and he was accelerating away from guys trying to catch him.’’
One of those films came from the quarterfinals, when Calhoun beat Jefferson County 49-35.
"The Rogers kid was the deal in our game,’’ Jefferson County coach J.B. Arnold said. “He just went off on us: four touchdowns, 200-something receiving. He’s just so big and athletic. The guy we had on him was a great player for us, a three-year starter at corner, and he battled him. But it’s hard to handle that size and speed.’’
Arnold also called Rogers the best receiver he’d seen in high school, including Calvin Johnson.
Rogers is 6 feet 3 inches and 205 pounds. His vertical leap is 40 inches, according to Lamb, his coach. Lamb said he has timed him on a track in track shoes at 4.32 in the 40-yard dash. It’s those numbers that have led to Rogers’ nickname: Da’Freak.
‘’To me, his size and strength put him head and shoulders above the rest,’’ Lamb said. “And normally when you see big people [at receiver], they’re not as fast and strong as he is. He’s got a ways to go route-running wise, but he’s got a great ability when going up and getting the ball. God blessed him with a lot of abilities.’’
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