Former Forest Bearcat and standout East Central Community College inside linebacker Payton Rogers took a step towards fulfilling a lifelong dream when he committed to play football for the Ole Miss Rebels this fall.
Rogers, of Homewood, turned down multiple scholarship offers from smaller colleges to accept a preferred walk-on offer from the Rebels. He received offers to play for West Alabama, North Alabama, Eastern Kentucky and Mississippi College, but playing SEC football for the Ole Miss Rebels has been his dream since childhood.
Rogers said it was a “no brainer” to accept the offer to play for his favorite team. “Ole Miss has been my team ever since I was little,” he said. “They offered me a preferred walk-on spot and all I have ever wanted was an opportunity to play at Ole Miss. I feel really good about being able to work hard enough to earn a scholarship to play SEC football.”
When Rogers arrives in Oxford to join the team, he’ll be following in the footsteps of his father, Trey Rogers. Trey was a walk-on who played at Ole Miss under Billy Brewer in the 1989 and 1990 seasons, and remains a faithful Rebels fan today. He said words can’t describe how proud he and his whole family are of Payton, and they can’t wait to watch him over the next two years.
“I just couldn’t be any happier,” Trey said by telephone. “Playing for Ole Miss has always been his dream. When he was 14 or 15 we went to watch UM play at LSU. During the game, Payton told me he was going to play football at Ole Miss, and he was as serious as he could be when he said it. He’s backed his words up ever since with hard work on the field and in school to earn a chance to live out his dream.”
As a freshman at ECCC, the 6-2, 225-pound Rogers played outside linebacker before shifting to inside linebacker this past season as a sophomore. He finished the 2019 season with 27 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble for the Warriors.
“It means so much to me to get this chance. My dad walked on at Ole Miss and to be able to do what he did is really a dream come true. I’m just so happy to get a chance to earn a full scholarship and help my parents out a little bit. This is my chance to live out my dream,” Rogers added.
Rogers was scheduled to graduate from ECCC this month and plans to enroll at Ole Miss in January. He will have two years of athletic eligibility when he joins the Rebels in 2020.