Odds and ends

September, 27, 2008

A few story lines to watch this season:

Great story by Avery Holton of the Austin American-Statesman on 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior quarterback Nyk McKissic out of Round Rock (Texas) Stony Point and how he's dealt with the tragic and sudden loss of his father on Christmas Day in 2006.

I had the opportunity to meet Nyk and his mother Ramona at the Nike Camp and EA SPORTS Elite 11 QB regional in Eugene, Ore., this past June, and you won't find many nicer or more respectful kids than him. Mrs. McKissic said recruiting is coming along slowly for Nyk; he has caught the eye of Ivy League coaches (Nyk carries a 4.4 GPA!) as well as those at Ohio University. Whichever school lands this well-rounded young man will clearly be getting a talent both on and off the field, a leader and someone who can deal with adversity. And Mrs. McKissic should be a nominee for Mother of the Year with the job she's done helping Nyk not only deal with the loss of his father, but continue to excel in the classroom and on the field.

• The spring will be an exciting time on ESPNRISE.com, as we bring you coverage of our elite events, including the Nike Camps, Nike Combines and Elite 11 QB camp. Leading up to those events in the spring, we'll look back at some notable past participants who continue to make headlines in college and pro football.

Jacquizz Rodgers
• For anyone who watched ESPN's Thursday night broadcast of Oregon State's 27-21 upset over USC, these next two names should no longer be unknowns. They took their first steps toward scholarships at Oregon State back in April 2006 with standout showings at the Texas A&M Nike Camp. That day, a pair of brothers named Jacquizz and James Rodgers made the trip from their Houston-area home to College Station -- and in the process, made names for themselves.

"Quizz," a then-rising junior running back, was already known in Texas high school football circles after a sophomore season in 2005 that included 2,325 yards on the ground and 37 total touchdowns. That day he measured in at 5-6, 180 and ran a 4.60 40-yard dash and a solid 4.25 in the shuttle run, showcasing the same jets and quickness that frustrated USC's defense all night Thursday.

James Rodgers
Quizz's older brother James was much more of a question mark back in 2006 and would battle questions about his size all the way until Signing Day -- despite having an outstanding Nike Camp. James measured in at 5-6½, 164 pounds that day and topped his younger brother in both the 40 and the shuttle, coming in at 4.57 in the 40 and 4.03 in the shuttle, the 15th-best mark in that event out of 390 total participants. While the in-state teams continued to sleep on James, his showing at the camp did draw the attention of the Beavers' staff, who eventually offered before Signing Day and secured his commitment, which also led to Quizz deciding to head west the following year.

So far, the brothers have been stars in Happy Valley. On Thursday, the pair accounted for all four Beavers touchdowns. Quizz has assumed the starting running back role as a true freshman, rumbling for 449 yards and six scores through the first four games, while James was a breakout player last fall as a true freshman, accounting for 794 total yards and four scores, and he has already caught three TD passes this fall. Not too shabby for a pair of 5-6 brothers from Houston who first emerged a few springs back in College Station and are now doing it big in Corvallis, Oregon.



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