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May 30, 2012

Where are they now? - Jacob Rogers




In 2010, former USC All-American offensive tackle Jacob Rogers moved home to Ventura (Calif.) to go into business with his father, J.T. Rogers. With his football days behind him, Rogers has now settled on a career he has been passionate about since childhood.

When Rogers was growing up, his father was a competitive skeet shooter and introduced Jacob to firearms early. Rogers got his first shotgun and hunting license when he was eight and firearms have been a part of his life ever since.

Father and son opened Island View Enterprises gun shop in 2010 and expanded it to include a state-of-the-art indoor shooting range in March of this year.

"My father did have a federal firearms license, which allowed him to sell firearms," Rogers said. "He had a 17,000-square-foot building and vacant land. We figured we'd start part-time and keep marketing the shop. Obviously it took off."

With many California businesses struggling, Rogers found an industry that is on the rise.

"This is one of the few industries in this economy that's doing extremely well," he said. "People always buy firearms to protect themselves. A lot of people are afraid the government is going to take away gun rights so some are stockpiling guns.

"People are also getting involved with the sport, it's growing at an all-time rate."

The sport side is where more mainstream members of society are getting involved and Island View is doing what they can to earn their business.

"We did a lot of research and we wanted to create an environment that was very family friendly," Rogers said. "I grew up around firearms all my life, started hunting when I was eight years old. We want people to gain memories like I was lucky to gain as a young boy.

"We really wanted to appeal to female shooters as well and project a positive image for the sport."

Rogers' road to Island View was an interesting one. He graduated from Oxnard High School early and was recruited to USC by Paul Hackett in 1999 as a tight end.

"Me and J.P. Losman (Venice High School to UCLA) were among the first guys to ever enroll early in college. I came in at 235 pounds and was up to 265 by August. After that year, they moved me to offensive tackle."

By the end of his college playing days under Pete Carroll, Rogers won an Orange Bowl, a Rose Bowl, a national championship, the Morris Trophy and was a consensus All-American.

"I have quite a few great memories," Rogers said. "In 2003, the Orange Bowl, my junior year when Carson Palmer won the Heisman and we beat Iowa down there in Miami. That was the stage we stepped out on and we showed everyone we were up and coming.

"Obviously, next year we won the national championship and I remember parts of every game from that season."

Even before Rogers hit the field for the first time, his teammates helped build another great memory that lasted his entire college career.

"During my first year when I redshirted, we broke the losing streak against UCLA. I didn't lose to them in my five years at USC."

Maybe one of the most memorable plays during Rogers' career came in that 2004 Rose Bowl against Michigan. In the third quarter, Mike Williams took a reverse handoff and threw a perfect touchdown strike to Matt Leinart.

"I was sealing that edge, Mike came off that corner and threw off to the left side," Rogers recalled. "I was just trying to seal edge and keep everyone away from Mike. It was one my favorite plays at USC."

A few months after that game, Rogers was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the NFL Draft with the 52nd pick.

Unfortunately, Rogers wasn't able enjoy the same success in the NFL that he did in college.

"When I came out of school, my body was pretty beat up," Rogers said. "I had a few surgeries already and had some problems with my knee.

"During my rookie year, I ended up hurting my knee even more and I didn't play much. I had a lot of issues with my knee and my shoulder."

Rogers did end up getting shoulder surgery after his rookie season.

"Going into second year, I was in really good shape and playing well," he said. "In my first preseason game, I tore my knee out again. I ended up tearing my MCL 10 times in three years. The last time I did it, the kneecap hit my femur and choked off two pieces of cartilage from the bone."

The Cowboys wanted Rogers to play on it, but after talking to doctors, he ended up having surgery to repair the damage.

"Dallas wasn't too happy about it and released me."

Rogers had one more NFL shot, after rehabbing for a year and a half in Arizona, he signed with the Denver Broncos.

"I made it through a couple of weeks of training camp and then tore my knee up again," Rogers said. "It was definitely frustrating but I consider myself lucky to have played as long as I did."

After hanging up the shoulder pads, Rogers grabbed a clipboard and tried his hand at coaching.

"I coached at Mississippi with Ed Orgeron for a year then at a 1-AA school, Central Connecticut State, for two years," Rogers said. "But my daughter was getting ready to go into kindergarten and coaching involves a lot of moving, so I decided to get out of that and get back into the family businesses."

Rogers, who weighed 325 pounds when he was with the Cowboys and is now down to 266, still thinks about his gridiron days all the time.

"I do miss football every day," he said. "I have a lot of great memories. Every day I pull from lessons I learned, whether it was playing or coaching. I formed a lot of great relationships through those years."

Now that he is back in Southern California, Rogers can get close to his Trojan roots once again.

"I went to one game this past year, the Washington game," he said. "It was the first time I've had chance to see a USC game in person since I played there.

"I definitely will look forward to getting down and make some of games when I'm not running this business. It's a lot of hours. When I don't have my daughter with me, I'm here until 9:30, 10 at night."

Even if he can't be there in person, Rogers still cares about how the Trojans do during the season.

"I watch SC every chance I get, I definitely stay on top of that."

You can find Island View Enterprises on the web at islandviewent.com.

Ryan Abraham is the publisher of USCFootball.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @insidetroy.

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