SEATTLE – The Huskies have their starting quarterback.
At 6:18 p.m. Tuesday, it took just two words for Will Rogers to confirm he’s staying in Seattle.
“Bow Down,” Rogers posted on social media.
Rogers – a 6-foot-2, 204-pound senior – enrolled at Washington in January for the winter quarter, even attending the national championship game in uniform. After coach Kalen DeBoer unexpectedly departed for Alabama, the prolific passer returned to the transfer portal.
But less than two weeks after choosing to weigh his options, Rogers committed to the same school – and a new coach.
“Some of the guys at Washington,” he told ESPN of his reason to return. “The team went 14-1 last year. If we can pick up where we left off, obviously it’s going to be a tough task. But I think it’s why you come to Washington.
“It’s obviously a new conference and things like that. But I have a lot of faith in coach (Jedd) Fisch and feel like he’ll be ready to have us compete at a high level.”
In four seasons, 43 games and 40 starts at Mississippi State, Rogers completed 69.4% of his passes and threw for 12,315 yards with 96 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. The Brandon, Mississippi, native excelled in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, setting SEC records for single-season (505 in 2021) and career completions (1,301) and school records for career passing yards (12,315) and passing touchdowns (94).
Rogers’ 12,315 passing yards, by the way, are second most in the history of the SEC.
He brings a pedigree.
“He’s just a guy that knows the game, is not going to walk into a stadium and be overwhelmed by anything, extremely accurate as a passer, very heady,” DeBoer said of Rogers in December. “(He’s) really a team guy, just from the contacts and people we’ve talked with, understanding what type of leadership he’ll bring to our football team and just being consistent not just with what his play is on the field but who he is as a person.”
But will Rogers’ skill set translate to Fisch’s prostyle system?
After excelling for three seasons in Leach’s offense, Rogers stagnated somewhat last fall – completing just 60% of his passes and throwing for 1,626 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions, while missing four games with a shoulder injury. His statistics backslid in a new system, under a first-year coach (Zach Arnett) who was fired in November after just 10 games.
If Rogers wants to prove he’s an NFL-caliber quarterback, he can do that at UW.
“We’re an NFL-style, pro-style passing offense. That’s who we are,” Fisch said after being introduced as DeBoer’s successor on Jan. 16. “Last year and the year before we had tremendous success (at Arizona) with Jayden De Laura and with Noah Fifita. Both of those guys were phenomenal in our offense. … Both of them see the field extremely well. Both of them are mobile. Both of them have the ability to make every throw. Both of them have the chance to play under center and from gun. That’s what our offense consists of.
“The same thing you see Matthew Stafford do right now with the Rams and the same thing you saw Tua (Tagovailoa) do at Miami and the same thing Brock Purdy does in San Francisco and Geno (Smith) is doing (in Seattle) is what our system is based upon. It’s that Shanahan, McVay offense where you know how to play under center and gun and you know how to do play-action and you know how to complete the ball down the field. We were the No. 1 explosive offense in the country two years ago, and our goal is to be able to get back to that here at Washington.”
Rogers should help in that regard.
But his return is critically important for multiple reasons.
Sheer numbers being one.
While former standout starter Michael Penix Jr. prepares for the NFL draft, four other UW scholarship signal callers have entered the transfer portal: senior Dylan Morris (who has committed to James Madison), redshirt freshman Austin Mack (Alabama), junior William Haskell (uncommitted) and early enrollee freshman Dermaricus Davis (uncommitted).
In all, 25 Huskies have entered the transfer portal this offseason, with nine since committing to outside schools. Two more, Rogers and junior defensive back Dyson McCutcheon, decided to return to UW.
For now, UW’s only scholarship quarterbacks this spring are Rogers and four-star freshman Demond Williams Jr. – a former Arizona signee who announced his transfer to Washington on Sunday.
“We certainly feel like the quarterback is going to be what makes our program go,” Fisch said. “And we’re going to do everything we can to get the best one.”
Of course, Washington will need to add at least one more scholarship signal caller at some point this offseason. But the Huskies have a starter.
And that’s a start.