By Tracy Maple
On April 27, the final day of the NFL Draft, Cal Lutheran wide receiver Eric Rogers went undrafted, but received phone calls as a priority free agent from half a dozen National Football League teams before he settled on the Dallas Cowboys.
The criminal justice major attended a rookie mini-camp in Texas and returned there in May for an all-team camp. At press time for CLU Magazine, Rogers, a lifelong Cowboys fan, was expecting also to be invited to Oxnard in late July for the team’s summer training camp.
“I am definitely floating up with the stars right now,” said the two-sport athlete as he appeared at the SCIAC Track & Field Championship Meet, which was going on the day he first accepted the Cowboys’ terms. “Everything I have worked for has paid off, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue to prove myself on the football field.”
To say the least, the opportunity for Rogers to prove himself to his favorite professional team was a dream come true. If anyone can come from a small Division III school and make it with the best players in the sport, CLU head coach Ben McEnroe believes that Cal Lutheran’s No. 4 is the one.
“Rogers is the most dominant player that I’ve ever seen at this level,” McEnroe said. “His ability to score from anywhere on the field, along with his unique combination of height and speed, were a mismatch for everyone we faced. When you couple that with his burning desire to compete for every ball, you have the greatest receiver in CLU history. The record books here are a tribute to his ability and desire.”
Rogers not only excelled on the field and succeeded in the classroom but also was a “regular guy” who fit in at CLU, where celebrity status for athletes is never the norm. Still, when the Ventura County Star named him Male Athlete of the Fall Season, the newspaper noted that his fellow students lined up to get their meal cards swiped by him in the Caf, where he worked Sundays and Mondays.
The web of connections between the storied Dallas team and CLU won’t stop growing, it seems. Many alumni remember that coaching legend Tom Landry’s Cowboys held training camp on the CLU campus from 1963 to 1989, beating the Texas heat. Just this spring, the Cowboys hired Rod Marinelli ’72 as defensive coordinator.