Each week we will feature a college football player who is either a member or an officer in a Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.
Name: Sam Rodgers
College: Syracuse University
Height, weight, class, position: 6-2, 234 pounds, junior, long snapper
High School: Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania
About Sam Rodgers: The President of the Orange’s Uplifting Athletes Chapter that was formed earlier this year, Rodgers was one of 10 true freshmen to play on the 2011 team. Last year as a sophomore he did all the long and short snapping for all 13 Syracuse games. He was a candidate for the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America Team and made the Big East All-Academic squad. Earlier this year, Rodgers went on a mission trip to Haiti with teammate Macauley Hill to assist with projects and work with children at an orphanage. He is majoring in nutrition.
As a player, what is your favorite part of game day you get to experience at your home stadium?
Rodgers: Running out of the tunnel at your home stadium is always exhilarating. Once we go in from our warm ups the stadium always seems relatively empty but after being in the locker-room for 20 minutes as the band finishes the pregame festivities the crowd arrives. So by the time we run out of the tunnel the Carrier Dome is full and gets extremely loud.
What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?
Rodgers: Last season produced a lot of memorable experiences. Beating West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl, during a snowy day at Yankee stadium was very cool and even more so because I am a huge baseball fan. Also our two come-from-behind victories last year where we scored on our last drives to win against South Florida and Missouri.
What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what if anything has this experience done for you?
Rodgers: I grew up in State College, Pennsylvania so I was always aware of the Penn State Football’s Lift for Life. When I got to Syracuse, I knew I was in a position to make a difference in our community as well as on my team and I believe that Uplifting Athletes gave me the opportunity to do both. This past season when two new staff members arrived at Syracuse, Chris Gould and Brady Rourke, who both have connections to Penn State and are familiar with Uplifting Athletes’ efforts were both integral parts to starting a chapter at Syracuse University.
What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play and what makes them so difficult?
Rodgers: We have played some tough games over my first two years. The Big East was very competitive and we never went into a game that we could not win. As we move to the ACC this year there will be new challenges.
What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?
Rodgers: I am a nutrition major, which does not have a direct effect on my Uplifting Athletes efforts other than tremendous support from my department’s teachers and staff in the David Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics where the nutrition major is placed. However I am also minoring in Entrepreneurship and this has been an advantage since I have a background on how to make a business successful by having a positive income. Although the income goes to a charity rather than paying off employees it is still the same idea. Also my Vice President, Eric Morris, is majoring in Entrepreneurship and Supply Chain Management, which obviously brings tools to the table.
In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?
Rodgers: I am enjoying my college career and love being a part of the Syracuse football team, however I am also very excited for my career after football. During my time at Mercersburg Academy and Syracuse University I have met and built relationships with many people that have guided me and given me tools to be successful. I come from a very supportive family and God has blessed me excessively in my life. I am excited to build a career for myself and plan to stay highly involved in philanthropic events.
Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?
Rodgers: Levi Norwood from Baylor, Levi and I grew up as friends and played on the same travel basketball team as well as high school football. He is an electric punt returner in the Big 12 and a great wide receiver. He grew up in a strong football house therefor has developed a high IQ for the game. He makes smart plays and it’s always nice to watch friends succeed.
Who is your favorite NFL player and why?
Rodgers: Emmitt Smith has always been a role model of mine, I always loved watching him play as a kid and now know that he is great at more than just football. Currently I’d say my favorite players are Jason Witten and Demarcus Ware. Being a Long snapper it is important to give a shout out to my snapping role model Christian Yount, the Cleveland Browns long snapper. I have met Christian at a few camps over the years and admire his long snapping form and use his long snapping YouTube videos to coach myself. I think it is important to note that I would consider myself more of a professional baseball fan than NFL fan. I love the Pittsburgh Pirates and have loved watching them play since I was a little kid.
What was or is the inspiration for the Rare Disease your Uplifting Athletes Chapter is raising money for to be part of the fight?
Rodgers: In 2010 Rob Long, one of our team captains, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Rob was not able to participate in the end of his senior season and has since gone through 14 months of chemotherapy. After many radiation treatments and surgery, Rob celebrated his two-year anniversary of being cancer free this past spring – a feat that many people diagnosed with this disease do not reach. Rob put his heart into fighting his battle with cancer and as part of his Syracuse family we want to do the same.
What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?
Rodgers: Throughout my career I have had a chance to play at many cool venues. Playing two years in the Big East and now ending my career in the ACC I will get a chance to play in many stadiums. I have already played in a few NFL stadiums including MetLife stadium, the Superdome, and Tampa Bay. Playing at Southern Cal was a great experience and also the atmosphere at Minnesota was exciting.