Fancy footwork has WR Darreus Rogers primed for bigger role

As a freshman in 2013, Darreus Rogers snagged 22 balls while averaging 11.7 yards per catch.

LOS ANGELES — Last week an impromptu dance contest broke out in the middle of USC spring practice.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian declared Darreus Rogers the best of the football playing dancers.

It was no coincidence.

The sophomore wide receiver is enrolled in a hip hop dance class at USC this semester.

"I’m working on my moves (to) get more elusive," Rogers said.

Turns out, he was a ringer.

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"All" of the moves he used to win the dance contest were learned in his hip hop class.

He says the classes have helped his footwork, which is "really good," according to wide receivers coach Tee Martin. But there’s no denying his hands.

"He’s probably got the biggest hands in the room at receiver," Martin said. "Very, very strong hands. He can make those challenge catches — catches under duress, catches in traffic because his hands are so strong."

As a freshman in 2013, Rogers secured the third wide receiver spot behind Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor and snagged 22 balls while averaging 11.7 yards per catch.

In 2014, with the departure of Lee, Rogers’ role is expected to increase tremendously in Sarkisian’s system as he is expected to transition from role player to featured receiver.

"I think the challenge for a guy like Darreus is finding the consistency factor of knowing you’re not the third wide who goes in, kind of, every other down or every third down, that you’re out there all the time," Sarkisian said, "and how important that the little things are from a preparation standpoint of the quarterback’s counting on you to be right in your alignment and in your assignment every time you go. That takes time. That takes maturing."

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Trying to grasp the new offense, Rogers has had to increase his study habits. To do so, he’s working even closer with Agholor.

"He’s teaching me a lot of things that he don’t know he’s teaching me," Rogers said. "He don’t know I watch him every time.

"I just always wondered how he catch on to plays that fast. He tells me what he did and the next week I’m up (to speed with) tempo, knowing everything."

As he masters the playbook, Rogers has relied on his hands to make some tough catches this spring and, of course, his feet to shed defenders because as he showed, he can dance.

"You gotta know how to dance," he said.