Which college did DT Manny Rogers choose: Florida, Florida State or Tennessee?

Photo: Xavier Mascareñas/TCPalm

Editor’s Note: Jensen Beach High School (Martin County, Florida) rising senior defensive tackle Manny Rogers dictated the following first-person story to TCPalm writer Jon Santucci to announce where he’ll play college football.

Rogers, the No. 2 player on the TCPalm Super 11, had 45 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2018 — his first season playing high school football. He earned honorable mention on TCPalm’s all-area football and basketball teams during the 2018-19 school year. 

247Sports ranks the 6-foot-6, 317-pound Rogers as a four-star recruit, while the 247 Composite has him as a three-star, No. 33 DT in the nation. His offers included (in alphabetical order) Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan and Tennessee.

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I’m surprised that I got this far.

I’m surprised I have this opportunity.

College wasn’t supposed to happen for me. Not like this at least.

I’ve only been playing football for one year and then I started getting all these offers. Now, I have a place that I can go and try to get my family out and make it somewhere big for myself.

Coach Tim Caffey is the reason I even started playing football. One day, during my sophomore year, he was walking through the hall with a college coach and the coach said he would offer me if I started to play football. I can’t remember what the guy looked like or what school he was from, but I remember what he said. Once that happened, I was like, I need to play. I got to play.

I told him I was coming out and I did.

I played football in eighth grade for the Port St. Lucie (Florida) Renegades. We had a nice team back then. I used to play wide receiver. I was skinny back then.

I don’t really know why I didn’t play football when I got to high school except I liked basketball better. I was always the biggest kid, so it came easy for me.

But football is the best fit for me. In basketball, I’m a little short and a little big. I’m not going to go far there. But I have the perfect body for football.

It wasn’t easy early on. The first day in pads was a little tough because I wasn’t used to getting hit like that. You can’t do that in basketball. You’d get kicked out.

But I do like to hit people. When I get mad in practice, look out.

Being able to hit someone in a game – and not get kicked out – that’s real nice.

I stayed with it. And once I started playing, the offers started coming in.

The first offer was from Kansas and it kind of surprised me. Coach Caffey called me into his class and I saw a coach in there with him. When he offered, you should have seen my face. I just started smiling.

I wanted to get more. It made me work harder. It made me work harder in school, too. I want to go off to college and keep playing. And getting a free education is real good.

I want to thank all the coaches that offered me and thank Coach Caffey and the other staff who helped me get what I thought I could only dream of.

I would like to announce that I will continue my academic and football career at Florida State.

I love the coaches there. They make me feel like I’m at home. Especially coach Odell Haggins. He’s been there for 25-plus years and I know when I get there he’s not going to leave and I’m going to have some other coach. I know he’s going to make me grow as a man and help me through life.

That connection was very important for me. I don’t really trust people like that, so when I heard him talking, he had my trust. When I went to other colleges, it didn’t feel the same as when I went to Florida State.

I’m ready to go.

I’m ready to get to work.

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