The scream was enough to wake a child, but it was a good scream. It was born from happiness and excitement, and released without any ability to control it.
Ohio State freshman wide receiver Noah Rogers caught a fourth-quarter slant pass in OSU’s spring game, broke two tackles, and then raced into the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown.
And when Rolesville High School head coach Ranier Rackley saw it, he couldn’t contain himself.
“I scared my daughter,” Rackley told Buckeye Huddle. “She was asleep. I screamed when I saw it and I woke her up because I screamed so loud when he caught that slant.”
Rackley is the new head coach at Rolesville High School in Rolesville, North Carolina where Rogers played his high school ball. Rackley has actually been on the staff at Rolesville since Rogers was a freshman, but the two go back nearly a decade. Back to 2016 and Pee Wee football.
Rogers was a standout in youth football, but it was his maturity off the field that impressed Rackley first.
“It was 100% the person before the player that stood out to me,” Rackley said. “That’s what I’d tell anybody about Noah. The football piece is easy when it comes to Noah. Noah made it easy in high school. He made it easier with doing the day-to-day stuff as a leader in the football program. But my thing that I admire so much about Noah was his ability to be a young man early. That’s what made me draw to him even more as a young man. The football part of it was easy. That was a plus. Everything else was like, ‘This kid is different.'”
The connection began in 2016 and has only grown from there. Rogers has always been able to put a smile on Rackley’s face, and most of the time it has had nothing to do with football.
But the football smiles are there as well, just as they were last month when Rogers took a slant pass and ran through the Ohio State defense like he’d done a hundred times before in high school.
“Shoot, man, I lost count,” Rackley said of the number of times he’d seen that same play throughout Rogers’ career.
But it didn’t take too many of those types of plays in high school for Rackley to know that he was watching a high-level college football player.
“I’d say his freshman year, primarily, I was like, ‘Okay, Noah is peeking now,'” Rackley said. “And once that happened, I said, ‘This is gonna be a ride.’ I saw him make a couple of different types of catches at practice and things like that. I tell people, the stuff I see him do at practice is not even the same stuff he does in the game. The stuff he does in the game, that’s for everybody else to see. But the stuff that we saw him do at practice, it’s just different. One time I saw him catch a kickoff at practice with one hand like Odell Beckham and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s just different.'”
Ohio State receivers coach Brian Hartline was Noah Rogers’ primary recruiter, and the Buckeyes ended up offering him in January of 2022. One year later, he signed.
During Rogers’ high school career, he posted over 3,200 yards receiving, which included 37 touchdowns over his final two seasons. That’s a great athletic career for 99% of the population, but for Rogers, it’s just the beginning.
“I just know he has another switch he hasn’t even tapped into, and that’s something I told coach Hartline too when he came down,” Rackley said.
Rackley saw the arc of Rogers’ high school story from the beginning to the end, and he still sees the same future today that he saw four years ago.
“Oh, I said he was gonna play on Sunday,” Rackley said of his initial thoughts about Rogers as a player. “Again, I’m from where football is king — I’m from Florida, and I tell people all the time, that’s the best wide receiver I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m just being blatantly honest. And I’m not just saying that because I coached the kid. I saw the kid grow up and that’s the best receiver I’ve seen in my life to date. You know, I may have some other ones come out, but today he is the best one I’ve seen.”
Rogers is listed at 6-foot-2 and 194 pounds and has the ability to play any of the three wide receiver spots. He’s big and strong enough to line up as a split end directly on the line of scrimmage across from a press corner. He’s also fast enough to be the flanker off the line who can be called upon for big plays down the field. Then there’s also the slot, which has been a productive position for Ohio State receivers over the years.
“Listen, I was just talking about Noah last week and I said, ‘If they need him to play slot, I’m sorry for that linebacker,'” Rackley said. “That linebacker will not be able to guard him. And I wish we had done a little more of that last year, but we moved him around. Not as much as we needed to, but we did bounce him around and move him different places.. When you hide him on the field, you’ve got to figure out where he’s at. And when you’ve got to figure out where a guy like Noah’s at on the field, you have to try to figure out, ‘Okay, we need to move this guy here,’ and now your whole defense is thrown off. But I think he could play slot, outside receiver. Man, he could play running back if he had to.”
The Buckeyes showed this spring by playing All-American receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. in the slot quite a bit that they are more than willing to move guys around to look for advantages. The good thing about Noah Rogers is that wherever the Buckeyes put him, he will eventually be able to find the advantage because he’s big, he’s fast, and he runs routes like it matters to him.
“The thing with Noah is he can stretch the field,” Rackley explained. “If Noah had run track this year, he probably would’ve run a 10.7, 10.8 100 meters. The way he can stretch the field, get in and out of his breaks in his routes, and off the line releases are strengths. Again, I can say so much, but the thing is, I’ve seen this kid do so many things. Every week it was something he was doing where I’m like, ‘Dang, Noah, when are you not going to wow me?'”
And even his weaknesses can be a strength when channeled properly.
“I think sometimes he beats himself up,” Rackley said. “I wouldn’t say he had a weakness in the sense of him not working hard, but I think his weakness is he sometimes wants to make that extra catch or make that extra touchdown or make that extra block or something like that. Which I told him, ‘Hey, look, man, you’ve got to have a short-term memory and block that stuff out and keep moving.’ I think that’s his weakness when it comes to his skill set, but it’s not a bad thing.”
Ohio State Was The Fit For Noah Rogers
The Buckeyes had to stave off the allure of staying closer to home, and even though Ranier Rackley had some “hidden ties” to Ohio State via friendships with former Buckeye running back Maurice Wells and former OSU Director of Player Development Ryan Stamper, there were no connections that could carry more weight than those Noah Rogers made with Hartline and the Ohio State staff.
And while Rackley readily admits that Hartline is the best receivers coach in college football — calling him “the Goat” — he wanted Rogers to also pay attention to Hartline’s story as a high school player himself.
“I told Noah this story — and I don’t even know if coach Hartline will remember me knowing this story, but coach Hartline went to a workout with Ohio State when he was coming out of high school because they were only talking about, I think, doing a [preferred walk-on] with him. And I remember Coach telling me that he took every single wide receiver rep there was when he went to that camp. He stood out more not just by him being good as a receiver, but as far as his tenacity to keep doing routes and keep getting reps to get yourself looks. I told Noah, ‘That’s the type of person you need to work with because he will push you to a place where you’ve never been pushed before.'”
The Motivating Factor
There is no hard work without a motivation to endure the difficulties, and for Noah Rogers, his motivation is clear.
“His family. Knowing that he could do something — his brother plays at UNC right now, Cyrus, but just to do something that he’s been doing all his life, that pushes him. His family motivates him to the utmost,” Rackley said. “His big sisters, he’s the youngest of four and the fact that they push him — and not push him to the point where he feels like he wants to quit at times, but push him in support as his support system. That’s why he does it. That’s his motivation for sure.”
Rogers is a relationship builder. Rolesville has had three head coaches in the past three years and you can find the same kind of effusive praise for Rogers from the prior two head coaches as well.
Even opposing coaches will reach out unsolicited with good things to say about him.
“Twenty years of coaching college and high school, I can’t remember a better high school receiver,” one opposing North Carolina high school coach told Buckeye Huddle.
“He’s a kid that builds off relationships and loyalty and trust,” Rackley said. “So if you’re a person that could take him under their wing and teach him certain stuff, how to be a young man, you’ve won him over. That’s just how he’s always been.”
This is something that Rackley has explained to the Ohio State coaching staff as well.
“I have a great regard for coach Ryan Day,” he said. “Me and coach Day spoke a lot about Noah before he signed him. I just told those guys that you’re not just getting a good receiver, you’re getting a great young man. And the fact that he will continue to grow and continue to get better, it’s scary to see what’s gonna happen in the next year or two. Y’all have a great player in Noah Rogers. Not just a great football player, but with the stuff he will do in the community as a leader outside of the field, just a great kid.”
And talking to coaches — or anybody — about Noah Rogers is something that comes very easy to “Coach Rack.”
“I could talk on and on about Noah,” he said. “Noah is a different type of person. I love that kid like he’s my own son. It just hits different when I’m talking about Noah Rogers, outside of him being a football player.”
Years have passed since Rackley and Rogers first got to know each other, and they have grown incredibly close over that time. It has been a rewarding experience for both, and one that will continue well past Rogers’ playing days.
As Rackley watches from afar, his final message is one that details the love he has for his former player, along with the promise that those efforts won’t go unrewarded.
“I just want people to know that the kid y’all have in Noah Rogers is far more than the naked eye can see,” he said. “The work and the grind he’s going to put in for you guys, and not just the school, but the community and everyone else that’s involved, it’s amazing. Y’all have an amazing kid. If there’s anything I can tell y’all, just as a whole, as a program, as a community, just love up on Noah as much as they possibly can. And trust me, you’re gonna get the best out of him every time.”
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