Heritage Academy senior Lex Rogers poses for a picture with his family Wednesday during a signing ceremony to celebrate his decision to attend and to play soccer at Belhaven. Seated with Lex are his father, Steve; and his mother, Lori. Also pictured are Lex’s sister, Carly; and his grandparents, Martha and Fred. Photo by: Adam Minichino/Dispatch Staff
January 17, 2019 10:24:42 AM
Lex Rogers never has had a problem making an impression.
Whether it has been in a variety of roles with the Heritage Academy football team or on the soccer field, Rogers has been easy to spot due to his athleticism and his nose for the ball.
As a standout soccer player, Rogers has spent most of his soccer career at Heritage Academy as a forward who has sparked the Patriots' attack. In club soccer, though, Rogers plays as a center back. It's the same position he played last summer when he attended a soccer camp at Belhaven University in Jackson. The camp, which served as an identification/instructional event, was designed to help the Belhaven coaches evaluate recruits who might be interested in playing for the Blazers.
It wasn't difficult for Rogers, who started playing soccer when he was 4 years old, to attract attention, even from a defensive position.
"I felt really good about it," Rogers said. "The first day they reached out to me, so I knew I made a good first impression."
On Wednesday, Rogers finalized the next step in his journey when he signed to play soccer at Belhaven.
Rogers said he hadn't identified a possible school to attend prior to attending the camp in early June. He said the initial conversation with the Belhaven coached led to an offer to join the program and a dialogue that lasted through the end of 2018 and prompted him to sign with the NCAA Division III school.
"We played a lot of games (at the camps) and did different drills so they could see how everybody played," said Rogers, who added he plans to study pre-med/pre physical therapy. "I like the small atmosphere of the school. The class sizes are good, and the coaches at the camp stood out."
Rogers has honed his soccer skills playing club ball out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for the last three years. He said all off that time and training was geared toward realizing a goal to play soccer in college. He feels he has improved every season leading to his senior year. He highlighted his ability to play faster and at a higher tempo on all of his teams as one of his biggest areas of improvement.
A center back might not have many opportunities to showcase an ability to play quickly or to make split-second decisions, but Rogers said his mentality helped him make an impression. He said he enjoys defending more than playing an attacking position. At the Belhaven camp, Rogers said he didn't look to catch the eye of the coaches. Instead, he said he focused on the "little things" like being in the right position, playing aggressively, and communicating with his teammates to show he could handle the transition to the college game. Rogers said he was able to display those skills in a four-back system, which he said he always has played.
Rogers also showcased a versatile skill set as part of the Heritage Academy football team for the last three seasons. He played wide receiver, defensive back, and handled the kicking duties. Rogers said the time he spent playing football helped him build strength and enhanced some of his other skills.
"He is a great kid," Heritage Academy football coach Sean Harrison said. "He provided so much versatility and energy on offense and defense. He gave us another weapon to use in the passing game, and he helped fortify the secondary in coach Russ Whiteside's defense. Needless to say, he also was a great kicker."
All of that work figures to help Rogers build on that first impression when he arrives at Belhaven to kick off his college soccer career.
"It is kind of relieving," Rogers said of signing. "I have been working so hard for. It is a relief to know I have it set now."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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