“Bow Down.” Will Rogers took to social media to post these two words on Tuesday night. These two words represent his commitment to Washington and his official withdrawal from the transfer portal. The former Mississippi State Bulldog transferred to Washington under Kalen DeBoer’s staff back in mid-December. The coaching change prompted the four-star quarterback to re-enter the transfer portal and explore his options. One week after Jedd Fisch was formally introduced to the program, Rogers announced he would be staying in Seattle.

Will Rogers To Stay at Washington

Rogers enters Washington as the SEC’s second-leading passer in the history of the conference. His 12,315 yards is second to only Aaron Murray of Georgia, who played from 2010 to 2013. Rogers’ stint in the conference was from 2020 to 2023, and the bulk of his production was under Mike Leach in 2021 and 2022. Rogers played in all 26 of the team’s games in those two seasons as Mississippi State’s starter. He tossed 71 touchdowns in that span. Rogers’ led an offense that averaged 378 passing yards per game in 2021, and 311 passing yards per game in 2022. In his four years at Mississippi State, Rogers started 40 games and played in 43. The new Husky has 94 career touchdown passes with a 69.3% completion percentage. 

Under Leach, the Bulldogs ran the air raid offense. It’s a scheme designed to stretch the field horizontally with wide splits, quick passing plays, and an up-tempo pace. Hal Mumme was the trailblazer for the air raid, and Leach learned under him at Valdosta State. The legendary late head coach then popularized it at Texas Tech, Washington State, and Mississippi State. It requires a quarterback with a strong arm, quick decision-making skills, and an accurate vertical ball. Rogers has all three of these things and puts them on display in Starkville.

Rogers’ Fit with Jedd Fisch’s Offense

Fisch does not run the air raid, but it’s an offense that’s conducive to a quarterback like Rogers. Fisch’s offense has averaged north of 300 passing yards per game in each of the last two seasons. In 2023, 73% of Arizona’s passing plays with Noah Fifita at quarterback were without play-action. During Rogers’ 2021 season at Mississippi State, 88% of his throws were without play action. Fisch’s offense utilizes similar concepts to the air raid in that it gets the ball out quickly and consists of short routes that stretch the field. It also runs with a good tempo and includes vertical route concepts that require a strong-armed and accurate quarterback. Rogers fits that mold. 

Will Rogers is Washington’s Starter

Washington has its starting quarterback for 2024. The SEC’s second all-time leading passer will suit up in purple and gold this fall. Rogers’ recommitment to the program was Fisch’s first major win of his tenure. The new head coach landed a handful of solid players from Arizona last weekend, but this is different. Rogers isn’t a guy Fisch originally recruited. He’s a Mississippi native and was brought into the Washington program by a different staff. The fact that this new staff was able to re-recruit him speaks to the importance this group places on recruiting. It also speaks to the culture that Fisch is building in Seattle. Most importantly, it shows that Fisch is here to win now. He’s got a guy for next season, and he doesn’t plan to see a drop-off in production from this offense.

 

Photo courtesy: Barbara Gauntt/Clarion Ledger / USA TODAY NETWORK

 

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