Rodgers a bright spot for Beavers

CORVALLIS — Jacquizz Rodgers is small and wily, just how Oregon State seems to like its running backs.

Following in the tradition of Ken Simonton, Rodgers has emerged as a threat for the Beavers — one of the bright spots in a turbulent start to the season.

Just a freshman, Rodgers has rushed for 263 yards and four touchdowns for Oregon State (1-2).

He broke out last weekend in a 45-7 victory over Hawaii, rushing for 110 yards and two scores. He became the school's first true freshman to run for 100 yards in a game since Steven Jackson in 2001 at USC.

Rodgers welcomes the hard work that comes with being a rookie with something to prove.

"I'm used to it. You know, in high school I was getting anywhere from 20 to 30 carries. It's just the way you work outside of football that gets you to this level," he said.

Listed at 5-foot-7 and 193 pounds, Rodgers was the highlight of Oregon State's recruiting class.

He led Lamar Consolidated High School with a Texas record of 136 touchdowns and more than 8,000 yards, and was named the first Texas Associated Press Sports Editors Player of the Year. His nickname was "Mr. Touchdown."

At Lamar, Rodgers also faced questions about whether his stature would be an obstacle.

But it doesn't create much of a concern for the Beavers, who have a history of undersized running backs. Simonton, 5-foot-7 and about 200 pounds, still holds the school record for career rushing yards with 5,044.

More recently there was Yvenson Bernard, who was 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds and rushed for 3,862 yards — second only to Simonton.

Rodgers opened the season with 54 yards rushing in the season-opening 36-28 loss at Stanford, then upped his production with 99 yards and two touchdowns in the 45-14 loss at Penn State. Then he had the breakthrough at home against Hawaii.

Oregon State, with a bye this weekend, next plays top-ranked USC.

"We had our backs against the wall," Rodgers said. "If we had lost we would have gone down 0-3. So it was great to pick up a win in front of the home crowd and do it convincingly."

The Trojans have already begun thinking about Rodgers. Freshman Curtis McNeal, a recent addition, will likely play Rodgers on USC's scout team. McNeal is listed at 5-foot-8.

"Rodgers is one of those guys — he hides behind the line of scrimmage and comes popping out at you. Those guys can be very effective," USC coach Pete Carroll told the Orange County Register.

At Oregon State, Rodgers joins his older brother, sophomore slotback James Rodgers, who has 13 catches for 159 yards and a score. He's also run for 63 yards.

"These are two fine kids," Riley said, "and they've added a lot to our program already."

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