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September 08, 2011
Then and now, a self-described "ol' country boy" has been a team-first player and has remained devoted to his alma mater
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September 08, 2011

Play It Again George Rogers

Then and now, a self-described "ol' country boy" has been a team-first player and has remained devoted to his alma mater

WHENEVER WE ATE OUR PREGAME MEALS, USUALLY ONE OF THE COORDINATORS would say something about the game. During the Wichita State meal, one coach came up and made a speech. I remember him saying, "Sometimes, you are better than the team that you're going to play. But they don't know that. They have that in the back of their heads." He smacked the back of his head and said, "You've got to knock it out front!" The coaches were telling us, "These guys are not going to come over here and lay down. You've got to go out there and play hard." We had a couple of games in front of us—USC and Michigan—and we had to make sure that those teams knew we'd be coming to play.

Against the Shockers, I only had about 10 carries in the whole game and 108 yards, but I really only played about one quarter. We were ahead 31--0 at the half, so there was no reason for me to stay in. Anyway, I never wished I could have played the whole game—you know why? The other guys wanted to play. And anything coach Jim Carlen wanted me to do, I trusted him. He was like a father to me.

Besides, the sooner I got out of the game, the better I felt afterward. I used chewing tobacco a lot. I had that Skoal—I was a Skoal brother. You could dip before a game, but during the game you couldn't dip. But if you weren't going to be playing anymore, you could go on the sideline and dip. So I loved that.

To be honest, had Tennessee not fired coach Bill Battle right before Johnny Majors took over, my career might have been different. Battle and I had become good friends. I bought into him and was going to Tennessee. I was recruited by Vols running back Stanley Morgan, who took me out when I visited. We went to a movie, saw Car Wash. I had a great visit to Knoxville.

Then Battle was let go, and Coach Carlen came down to Duluth and said, "George, I know those schools are offering you all kinds of stuff. But I'm going to offer you nothing but a scholarship and a chance to play your freshman year." When he said that, that was it; I was going to South Carolina.

I'm like everybody else. I didn't really trust my talent. I've never been the type to boast about the talent I had. I was just trying to play football to the best of my ability. I'm not the guy who was bent on winning the Heisman Trophy. I just wanted to play football.

When I did win the trophy, I felt so proud of my teammates. Those guys up front, I don't care what kind of game I had, they'd say, "We'll be better next week." Everybody knew we were going to run the ball. Our quarterback, Garry Harper, was a good passer, but that's not what we did. If you were going to play South Carolina, you knew we were going to run the ball, so you'd better buckle up and get ready.

After the Heisman my name got bigger, but as a person, I didn't change. I'm just some ol' country boy who played sports and realized he had an opportunity to do some things and, later, put some money in his pocket. Eventually I bought my mom a house, bought her a car. I always told her that when I got older, I would do those things.

I got my degree in communications from South Carolina. I owe a lot of things to the school. I had the opportunity to play football for the Gamecocks, and since '93 I have had the opportunity to work in the athletic department. I feel almost like an ambassador, going out and telling people how much I love South Carolina.