Bryson Rodgers currently resides in Florida, and has for a good portion of his life.
But make no mistake about it, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound four-star 2023 wide receiver has plenty of Ohio roots. Early in his life, Rodgers lived in Warren, Ohio, for around two years. Then his family decided to relocate.
“My mom and dad thought it would be best to go because the city was getting bad and there just wasn’t great opportunities for me with football, because at a very young age my dad knew I was going to play football or baseball just like he did,” Rodgers told Eleven Warriors. “They wanted to give me the best opportunity, and that was moving to Florida.”
Despite the move to the Sunshine State, Rodgers would visit Ohio yearly, spending six to eight weeks of the summer in Warren visiting old friends and relatives. When it came to football, there were no questions where Rodgers’ loyalties belonged.
“I’m still an Ohio boy at heart,” Rodgers said. “I grew up an Ohio State fan and love watching Big Ten football. I love Ohio State considering the offense they run and the culture they have. What it means to be an Ohio State Buckeye is what I grew up on. I’ll always love ‘em, so I definitely grew up a fan.”
Jan. 26 was a life-changing day for Rodgers. Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline stopped by Wiregrass Ranch High School (Zephyrhills, Florida) not once but twice during the school day. Once in the late morning to chat with Rodgers for around 20 to 25 minutes, then later in the afternoon to speak with Rodgers and his high school offensive coordinator and defensive line coach. At the end of the day, Rodgers was presented with his dream scholarship offer from Ohio State.
WOW!!! What a dream come true.After a phenomenal conversation with @brianhartline , I am happy to announce I have received an offer from THE Ohio State University! @hdcoach_mark @MrLeggo1 @DauntaPeterson @TeamTampa813 #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/ozoE02QNAd— Iam_uno (@IBryson13) January 26, 2022
“It was a dream come true,” Rodgers said. “There's definitely a great bond between myself and coach Hartline. It’s amazing just getting to know him more and how he puts his players in the best position to succeed. He asked my offensive coordinator and my D-line coach questions about my character and the type of person that I am. He even talked to my family on FaceTime and he said ‘I was trying to find things not to like, and I couldn’t find them.’ Hearing that was awesome. He coached some great dudes all throughout the program and was a NFL wide receiver himself, so it’s like a dream come true and now I’m just taking it step-by-step.”
It was hard to tell who was more excited: Rodgers or his parents.
“I’ve been rocking the Ohio State jersey since I was three,” Rodgers said. “Seeing the smiles on my parent’s faces as well knowing they grew up Ohio State fans themselves, so envisioning their son playing for Ohio State being the diehard fans they are is awesome. Making them proud is my biggest accomplishment in my opinion.”
While Ohio State has great sentimental value to Rodgers, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a slam dunk to land in Columbus. Alabama and Georgia have also made an offer to Rogers, who is ranked as the 295th-best prospect and the 39th-best wideout in the 2023 class, and Rodgers is high on both. He’s going to weigh his options, and while he’s not married to any specific commitment date, he would like to have his recruitment wrapped up by the end of the summer.
The next step will be taking visits, and Rodgers said Ohio State is absolutely going to be one school he makes a trip to in March.
“That’s going to be the first priority in March is getting up there,” Rodgers said. “Coach Hartline and my family talked about getting up there when they’re having spring practices so I can get the campus and facilities tour while also watching them live at practice. I'm getting everything I could ask for that way. That’s definitely something that’s been discussed and we’ll definitely be in Columbus this coming March.”
Besides the personal connection, there’s plenty of football-related reasons Rodgers is high on Ohio State. He watched two OSU wideouts eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark in 2022, and Chris Olave fell just 64 yards short of reaching that total himself. Rodgers enjoys the way each wideout is deployed, allowing their versatility to show through, especially since he views himself as both outside an inside receiver. Lining up at various spots on the field last year, Rodgers caught 42 passes for 645 yards with 14 receiving touchdowns.
“It’s a tough question because there’s perks to each one,” Rodgers said of his preference regarding where he lines up pre-snap. “Outside, I like to create mismatches with DBs that don’t want to get on a faster, big frame. Then in the slot I feel like I can see the field better and read the zone. I love playing the slot position, I feel more into the action. I love playing outside, too; I could see myself as a slot, though.”
Hartline has been one of the main reasons Ohio State has landed so many highly touted wide receivers in the last few recruiting cycles. His relationship with Rodgers could also prove key in getting him to eventually suit up for the Buckeyes one day.
“He has that swagger where he’s like ‘I’m going to recruit the best three to four dudes in each class and have the toughest receiver group in the area,’” Rodgers said. “I can tell coach Hartline has a lot of confidence in his players. It just shows when you have three wide receivers go for 1,000 yards, that room is insane. And what’s behind them is dudes that are No. 1 at the top of their class. It just shows if you go there as a receiver, you’re going to produce and your full talent will be exposed to the country.”
Another selling point to Rodgers is Ohio State hasn’t added any receivers from the transfer portal. Sure, it helps when each recruiting class has a bunch of highly touted dudes, but it means the world to Rodgers that Ohio State typically relies on its homegrown players, even if it takes a few seasons to see the field.
“One thing I love about coach Hartline and Ohio State, he doesn’t take any portal receivers. I don’t know if anybody in college football realizes that, but coach Hartline is big on not taking any portal guys because he believes in the guys in his room that he’s trusted from years before,” Rodgers said. “That just shows again how great of a guy he is and how much he believes in his players.”