Henderson State All-American striving to do more than just win football games
It is hard to believe that a player who was lightly recruited would end up leading his team to historical achievements and setting several school records in the process.
Such is the story of Kevin Rodgers, Henderson State’s All-American quarterback.
Rodgers put up Peyton Manning-like numbers in Henderson’s season opener against Southern Nazarene, completing 17 of 25 passes for 468 yards and six touchdowns in less than three quarters of play. Rodgers, a junior, was 13 for 19 with 444 yards in the first-half, with all six scoring tosses coming in the first 30 minutes.
Playing quarterback in Rockwall, Texas, Rodgers was overshadowed by others in the area and was overlooked by recruiters around the country. So Rodgers took matters into his own hands, contacting schools and sending out highlight tapes. His plan paid off as Rodgers’ tape drew the attention of Henderson State head coach Scott Maxfield.
“I saw a young man that had a quick release and could throw the football,” Maxfield said. “He was very mature for his age and he had a great knowledge for the game.” Rodgers came to Henderson for a visit and was offered a scholarship that he gladly accepted.
After redshirting as a freshman, Rodgers began 2011 in a backup role. Just three games into the season, Rodgers was promoted to the starting quarterback and his first game was against No. 6-ranked Delta State. Despite losing to the Statesmen 34-31, Rodgers completed 29 of 49 passes for 292 yards.
Since the Delta State loss, Henderson has won 15 of the past 17 games with Rodgers at the helm. The only two losses were against Division I opponent South Alabama and last year’s Division II playoff game to Missouri Western.
The 2012 season was one most quarterbacks dream of. Rodgers’ numbers were staggering. He threw for 4,002 yards for an average of 363.8 yards per game. His 41 touchdowns passes were second nationally. He completed 66 percent of his pass attempts (271-of-409) and averaged a national best 14.77 yards per pass completion.
Awards and accolades poured in as Rodgers was named Great American Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He earned GAC Player of the Week honors a record six times, was a national Player of the Week twice, and earned All-American honors by three separate publications.
This past summer, despite being a sophomore, Rodgers received the league’s highest honor as he was named the GAC Male Athlete of the Year.
Rodgers, however, is the first to credit others for his success. “I am fortunate to have great players surrounding me,” Rodgers said. “If it wasn’t for a superior offensive line and some of the most talented receivers I have ever been associated with, I wouldn’t have those numbers. The awards I receive are not mine, they belong to the team. I am very happy to see others on the team getting recognition for their work as well.”
Aside from his astonishing play on the field, Rodgers has also excelled in the classroom. Majoring in business finance, Rodgers carries a 3.8 grade point average.
"Kevin's character is beyond reproach," Maxfield said. "He does not cut corners, or take short cuts. His work ethic is second to none, and he does not shy away from a challenge. He spends much of his free time away from football volunteering for many worthwhile organizations and causes in our area."
Rodgers also assists in the Reddie to Serve Day, a community clean-up program; the Reddie to Read program in the Arkadelphia public schools; and the Reddie to Teach program, which conducts sports clinics at the Arkadelphia Parks and Recreation Department.
Rodgers, along with members of the Reddie football team, participates each year in the Reddie Football Blood Drive, assists at the local humane society, and has helped local schools and community centers with the building of playgrounds.
“I really enjoy helping others,” Rodgers said. “Knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life is one of the most rewarding feelings one can have. I am fortunate to be in a position to be a positive influence on others and that is my mission.”
For his efforts both on and off the field, Rodgers is a candidate for the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. Rodgers is one of a record 151 candidates vying to be named to the prestigious 22-man squad, which honors college football players at all levels of the sport for their selfless acts of giving back to the community and off-the-field achievements. He also is the only Great American Conference student-athlete nominated, and is one of 18 candidates from Division II schools.
"Kevin is a positive role model and motivator of others, and the kind of quality person that makes a positive impact on everyone [with whom he] comes in contact," Maxfield said.
As far a being at Henderson State, Rodgers said it has been the best decision he has ever made. “I really love being a part of this university,” he said.
“There are so many great people on this campus. At bigger schools you often are a statistic, but here at Henderson, everyone from President [Glen] Jones, to the faculty and staff, and the students befriend you. It is truly the 'School with a Heart.' ”