Perry Parks is a high school football coach players love to follow. For Latheron Rogers-Anderson, that meant moving 46 miles West for his senior season.
Parks is the second-year head coach of the currently unbeaten Ridge View High School Blazers from Columbia, SC. Rogers-Anderson, a running back-defensive back on the Ridge View squad, has received college scholarship offers from the likes of Appalachian State, Charleston Southern, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Old Dominion.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Rogers-Anderson is also being recruited by hometown South Carolina, but he spurned all those on September 9th by making a verbal commitment to play for East Carolina.
Rogers-Anderson decided on ECU after making an unofficial visit to campus on September 9th for the N.C. State game.
“I think the coaching staff, especially [head] Coach [Scottie] Montgomery and [defensive line] Coach [Deke] Adams, who do a good job of making these recruits feel relevant,” Parks said. “[ECU] have a younger coaching staff that easily relate to the kids.”
Parks knows a thing or two about relating to “the kids.”
Before taking the job at Ridge View prior to the 2015 season, Parks was head coach at Lakewood High in Sumter, SC, which is about 46 miles East of Columbia. It was at Lakewood that Parks first encountered Rogers-Anderson as a middle school player.
“He was one of those kids we were very aware of coming up through the middle school,” Parks said. “He had the frame. He came in with a six-foot frame [as a high school freshman]. He had really good speed, too. We played him as a true freshman on the varsity level.”
Parks played Rogers-Anderson at both running back and safety as a freshman when Lakewood went 2-8. But a year later, with Rogers-Anderson spearheading the offense, Lakewood improved to 6-5 and advanced to the state playoffs.
Rogers-Anderson was the team’s top rusher that season with 1,050 yards and eight touchdowns on 141 carries. He also contributed 14 receptions for 153 yards and two more scores.
Lakewood’s success led Parks to be named head coach at Ridge View for the 2015 season. He left behind Rogers-Anderson, who went on to make 40 tackles and two interceptions as a defensive stalwart at Lakewood as a junior.
Soon after his junior campaign ended, Rogers-Anderson moved to Columbia to reunite with Parks. The reunion has paid big dividends for Parks and the Blazers as Rogers-Anderson made 25 tackles and two interceptions on defense, while rushing for 189 yards and three touchdowns on offense in the team’s first four games.
“We try to make sure he gets 10 touches offensively a game, and he starts in the secondary,” Parks said.
Although he has the talent to play on either side of the ball, Rogers-Anderson has been recruited to play in the secondary for East Carolina.
“I think they like to put their better athletes on defense in college these days, and just let those guys be athletes,” Parks said. “I think that’s where they see him playing.
“He’s had two interceptions and three fumble recoveries for us this season. Every time there is a fumble he’s around the ball. He’s a ballhawk-type guy with an offensive skill set. We love it when the ball squirts out on defense because he has a chance to recover it and get six points out of the deal.”
Rogers-Anderson is the fourth Ridge View player to make a verbal commitment to a Football Bowl Subdivision team along with linebacker Damani Staley (South Carolina), wide receiver Cam Butler (Colorado State) and offensive lineman Cam Mueller (Old Dominion).
The Pirates are also actively recruiting one of Rogers-Anderson’s junior teammates, Damion Daley. A 6-4 1/2, 260-pound defensive lineman, Daley already has one scholarship offer from Cincinnati.
As for Rogers-Anderson, Parks believes he’s a solid commit for East Carolina.
“I think he’s definitely set with East Carolina and I don’t foresee anything changing,” Parks said. “Of course, anything is possible if a Power Five [school] comes in at the last minute. South Carolina has continued to recruit him, but hasn’t offered. But I think he’s settled on East Carolina and that’s here he’ll wind up.”