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38 Days Until Kansas Football: The Lost Jayhawks - An Interview with Keith Rodgers

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Linebacker, Captain, Aloha Bowl Champion.

Baylor v Kansas Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

Last week, we got to know former KU defensive tackle Kevin Kopp and before that, quarterback Matt Johner. In our series “The Lost Jayhawks”, we feature some of the less-prominent players from the past or players that many Jayhawk fans old and new have led fade into their distant memory.

Today, we talk with Keith Rodgers, a linebacker at Kansas from 1992 through 1995. Rodgers was a regular in the KU defense and captained the 1995 team that went 10-2 and won the Aloha Bowl. He was nice enough to join us in early May for a quick interview and this is a transcript of that conversation.

RCT: What are you doing now? What type of business, etc?

Rodgers: I am a banker; Director for Lending Solutions for USAA.

RCT: What was the recruiting process like coming out of high school?

Rodgers: It was awesome. KU did a good job of hosting me on campus and I got a really good glimpse of life for a student/athlete. The environment is warm (except during winter) and the team and staff treated you like family. I had my choice between schools, but having a connection to KU through my brother and being able to play with friends from high school and be close to family was what made my decision.

RCT: What do you think was your biggest accomplishment in a KU uniform?

Rodgers: Being named captain my senior year. We achieved a #6 national ranking which was a meteoric improvement from when I started in 1992.

RCT: What’s your fondest memory as a member of the KU football program?

Rodgers: Workouts. Even though they were really, really hard, they brought the team closer together and those experiences created lifelong friends. The time in between is where we became brothers.

RCT: What was your best attribute as a football player?

Rodgers: Heart. I played reckless without regard for my health as a sacrifice for team accomplishment. I gave it my all. I didn’t have all the NFL measurables but compensated by being the example for effort.

RCT: Who is your most talented teammate while at KU?

Rodgers: That’s tough... but I have to say Ashundai Smith. He was 5’4” on a good day but was hard to catch, cover, and played much bigger than his stature.

RCT: I read an article about your leadership prior to the 95 season. Did you guys know that you were going to be that good that season? Any hint that you’d be a top-10 team?

Rodgers: We knew we had a good core and if our younger players could play up to their abilities, we could make a run at the Big 8 title. We had all the pieces.

RCT: Do you keep up with KU football now? If so, what’s your impression of the current team/coaching staff, etc?

Rodgers: It’s tough to watch. The uniforms and facilities are top-notch but the product on the field is not. We panicked when changing coaches that could have maintained our level of success. But when there is a constant rotation at the top, it’s hard to have consistent success.

RCT: Do you ever come back to Lawrence? For football or for leisure or both?

Rodgers: I travel a lot for work and living in Arizona, it is hard to get back with frequency, but I attempt to plan it annually. However, I don’t let more than five years go by without stopping in.