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Rodgers to Play for Nebraska; Johnny Agrees

After more than 2 1/2 months of speculation, Sweetwater High School running back Terry Rodgers confirmed Wednesday that he will attend the University of Nebraska on a football scholarship next fall.

Rodgers has not signed a national letter of intent, but Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne is leaving on a recruiting trip today and it is believed he will be in town to sign Rodgers in the next few days. Osborne was not available for comment.

Rodgers, 5-feet 9-inches, 175 pounds, was The Times’ 1985 Back of the Year after he rushed for 1,491 yards and 32 touchdowns, and he became San Diego County’s all-time leading rusher with 3,764 yards.

Rodgers can bench press 350 pounds and run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds.

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The Associated Press reported that Rodgers had decided on Nebraska Feb. 20, a week after the first day high school players could sign national letters of intent. But Rodgers’ father, Johnny, later denied that, saying that his son needed to take more time to decide between Nebraska, USC and Texas.

Much of the speculation in both the San Diego and Nebraska media centered on why Terry took as long as he did to decide and what role Johnny, who won the Heismann Trophy at Nebraska in 1972, had in that decision. The elder Rodgers said he did extensive research on each of the three schools so his son could make an educated decision. Johnny called it a “family decision.”

“The NCAA rules are so stringent, it takes that long just to do the necessary research,” Johnny said. “We wanted to make a rational decision based on data, not an emotional one based on the flair of the recruiter.”

Johnny cited numerous reasons for the decision. The fact that his son would be attending his alma mater was not among them.

“Nebraska has recruited seven blue-chip offensive linemen,” he said. “Anybody running behind that line--that could be one of the best in Nebraska’s history, and they’ve had some good ones--should do well. Nebraska has led the nation in rushing four out of the last five years. And they haven’t recruited a blue chip.

“That tells us that they’re taking guys who aren’t even blue chips and are having that kind of success. Coach Osborne is not just taking talent, he’s giving more talent to them. I would have been just as happy if he had gone to USC if they had the opportunities that Nebraska does.”

Johnny said Osborne has told him that Terry will be the No. 3 I-back behind senior Doug Dubose and junior Keith Jones.

There was also speculation that Johnny was holding out for the best deal, trying to arrange free plane tickets to watch Terry play, or even stipulating that Terry would only go to a school that offered Johnny a job. Johnny denied those allegations.

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“There have been stories that I wanted to be assistant athletic director at Nebraska,” Johnny said. “I haven’t talked to Coach Osborne about any special arrangements. Coach Osborne and I have been friends for a long time. I don’t think he would have respected me if I had approached him in that manner.”

Terry said he was pestered constantly by reporters and coaches for two weeks after the signing date, but the phone calls eventually subsided.

“After a while, they got the idea that it wasn’t going to be soon,” said Terry. “I can’t say (making the decision) really bothered me. Everybody was willing to wait, so it wasn’t like I was in a do-or-die situation.

“I’m pretty happy everything worked out like it did. (Taking the time) helped make sure the decision is concrete. My father had some say in it, but we pretty much agreed Nebraska had the best program.”

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