For the third time in two months, someone who was counted on to play an integral role for the Washington State defense has opted to enter the NCAA’s transfer portal.
According to Rivals.com, Cougars senior “Edge” Will Rodgers III, a 19-game starter the past two seasons and a starter in the season opener two weeks ago, entered the portal Monday.
Rodgers hasn’t confirmed the news, but one day after WSU’s 43-29 loss to No. 11 Oregon at Martin Stadium, the defensive lineman posted a tweet with a peace-sign emoji and nothing else.
Though Rodgers got a starting nod in the opener, the Cougars started Ron Stone Jr. at “Edge” in the Oregon game. WSU rotates its defensive linemen frequently, so Rodgers still saw playing time, though the senior left the field for the injury tent in the fourth quarter and eventually retreated to the locker room.
Rodgers had two assisted tackles in the opener, but none in WSU’s most recent game.
The fourth-year player from Saginaw, Michigan, would be able to transfer because of the additional year of eligibility given to players this fall. Rodgers has a redshirt year available, so if the defensive lineman transferred to another FBS school, he’d likely have to sit out in 2021 before playing as a sixth-year senior in 2022.
Earlier in the fall, Rodgers described he was “back at home” after switching from the interior defensive tackle position to “Edge,” which gives him more opportunities as a pass rusher. By all accounts he’d made the transition seamlessly, earning the start in WSU’s first game.
In his 33 games with the Cougars, Rodgers has 53 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Despite missing a game in 2019, Rodgers had arguably his best season with 27 tackles, six for loss and four sacks.
The Cougars could be thin at “Edge” in Saturday night’s game against Stanford, especially if redshirt junior Willie Taylor III misses his second consecutive game. Stone and Brennan Jackson are expected to get starts for WSU, but without Rodgers and Taylor, the Cougars presumably would rely more on true freshmen Moon Ashby and Gabriel Lopez.
Rodgers is the third member of WSU’s defense to enter the transfer portal in two months. Defensive back Skyler Thomas and defensive lineman Lamonte McDougle both put their names in, though McDougle has since removed his and indicated he’ll stay at WSU.