It wasn’t a far-fetched concept. There was good reason for it.
UL football fans had really high hopes for tight end Chase Rogers out of St. Stanislaus in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
The 6-4, 235-pounder had caught 216 passes for 3,729 yards and 44 touchdowns from future LSU quarterback Myles Brennan during his high school career.
There’s never been any question about the potential or work ethic of UL senior wide receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley.
The Cajuns hadn’t enjoyed a receiving threat at tight end since Ladarius Green left in 2011. The still haven't.
But entering his third fall in Lafayette, Rogers and the fans are still waiting for his breakthrough season.
A foot injury in November of his freshman season at Ole Miss ended that year. Then, just as he thought he was healthy again, another foot injury during the spring last year forced him to miss the first nine games of coach Billy Napier’s first season.
One can only imagine how relieved Rogers is to finally be 100 percent healthy.
“It’s amazing,” he said.
“You go through adversity and you’ve got to fight through it. I take it one day at a time and trust the process and know that you’re time is going to come.”
In Billy Napier’s first season calling plays at UL, his offense made progress.
Sure, the redshirt sophomore remembers each step of his long road back.
“The second time it happened (was the lowest point),” Rogers said. “I was going through it healthy and felt like everything was going great. Then, you know, it was taken away like that. That was probably the toughest.”
However, a week into UL’s August camp, Rogers’ mindset is absent of any negativity.
“You just have to take it one day at a time,” he said. “Things don’t always work out as planned. You just have to go with it.”
The first big step is the injury has been forgotten.
Injuries limited his playing time as a redshirt freshman a year ago, and he sat out the entire spring season.
“It doesn’t even cross my mind anymore,” he said.
Secondly, his goals are simple and strong.
“This year, be more physical and dominate my opponent every chance I get,” Rogers said.
Rogers said it’s far too early to predict how many catches he’ll have this season, but he’s certainly embracing the physical side of his position in this offense.
“In college, we run a lot of ’12’ personnel (one running back, two tight ends) here, especially on the edges is our thing right now,” Rogers said. “That’s what we’re going to do and that’s what I need to be … more physical.”
As discouraging as sitting out nine games was a year ago, his approach to handling it impressed his new coach.
UL’s three-headed running back trio of Trey Ragas, Elijah Mitchell and Raymond Calais combined for 2,920 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. …
“Chase impressed me last year in what he was able to do,” Napier said. “That’s a heck of an accomplishment in my opinion to go through the rehab process, stay mentally engaged enough at a position that I think is as complicated a position that we have on our team and be able to go out there and play the final four games. And play well and do his job well for our team.”
The new NCAA rule that allows a player to play as many as four games without sacrificing a redshirt made last year much easier to swallow for Rogers.
“It did,” Rogers said. “Knowing that I could come back, it made me push myself harder to get back out there.”
So with eight catches for 85 yards and a touchdown in 11 games over the past two seasons, Rogers is effectively using the 2019 season as a reset button.
UL football coach Billy Napier certainly expected it, but the Cajuns’ two graduate transfers — Texas-San Antonio defensive back Brenndan Johns…
“Chase is a good football player,” Napier said. “He’s tough, good footwork, good fundamentals. I do think he’s a young man. I think he’s maturing. He’s learning what’s required — how hard it really is to be an elite player.
“But you know, the guy is 6-3-plus and 235 pounds and a guy who can run, catch and he’s physical enough to be an effective blocker. I’m excited that we’ve got him for three more years. I’ll tell you that.”
Like many of his teammates, Rogers is bursting at the seams with optimism heading into their second season in the Napier system.
“Just the whole scheme of things,” Roger said. “We’re all finally coming together and learning the full offense and how everything works, where everyone’s going and just learning the knowing the whole concept of things and not just what we have to do.”