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Dallin Rogers and returned Mormon missionaries in college football

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 12:26 p.m. MDT

Utah tight end Dallin Rogers (89) locks eyes with Washington Huskies linebacker Princeton Fuimaono. Rogers served an LDS mission to Tallahassee, Florida. (Deseret News File Photo) Utah tight end Dallin Rogers (89) locks eyes with Washington Huskies linebacker Princeton Fuimaono. Rogers served an LDS mission to Tallahassee, Florida. (Deseret News File Photo)

SALT LAKE CITY – A mission call rarely comes when it’s convenient.

Prior to the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl, University of Utah freshman Dallin Rogers was in a San Diego hotel room with his parents when he was overcome with the realization he needed to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after the season.

“It hit me so hard that I couldn’t deny it,” Rogers said. “I told my parents I needed to serve a mission and I needed to serve it now. I didn’t know why.”

The awkward thing was that Rogers didn’t turn 19 until the following August. Because of this, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound tight end had committed to play two years for coach Kyle Whittingham before departing to preach the gospel. The fact that Rogers had played significant minutes as a first-year freshman made the decision more difficult. Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who isn't a member of the LDS Church, was expecting Rogers to return in 2008. How would he react?

Utah Utes tight end Dallin Rogers (89) makes a reception for a first down with Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Daniel Sorensen defending on the play. Rogers served an LDS mission to Tallahassee, Florida. (Deseret News File Photo) Utah Utes tight end Dallin Rogers (89) makes a reception for a first down with Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Daniel Sorensen defending on the play. Rogers served an LDS mission to Tallahassee, Florida. (Deseret News File Photo)

Despite his uncertainty, Rogers submitted his mission papers and was sent to the Florida Tallahassee Mission, where he had several marvelous experiences. He returned to the University of Utah in 2010. Before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Pittsburgh this year, Rogers had 22 receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns. What he learned in the mission field has helped him on the football field, he said.

“The mission has changed the way I think about football — it’s a blessing to play now,” Rogers said earlier before his injury. “Everything translates over from the mission field to life — battling adversity, being a good example, relying on the Spirit. It means everything to me.”

Rogers is one of more than 100 returned Mormon missionaries on Football Bowl Series team rosters this season, most of whom are at the University of Utah, Brigham Young University and Utah State University.

BYU linebacker Jameson Frazier (48) gets a hand on the pass by UCF Knights quarterback Jeff Godfrey (2) in September. Frazier served an LDS mission in Montreal, Canada. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) BYU linebacker Jameson Frazier (48) gets a hand on the pass by UCF Knights quarterback Jeff Godfrey (2) in September. Frazier served an LDS mission in Montreal, Canada. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

As it turned out, Whittingham was supportive of Rogers’ decision. Ludwig struggled to understand why Rogers couldn’t wait, but didn’t stand in the his way. To the freshman’s surprise, church officials allowed Rogers to start a month before his 19th birthday so he could return in time for the fall 2010, a rare privilege. When he walked off the plane in Florida, his mission president’s wife started singing “Utah Man.” Rogers knew he was in the right place.

Parts of Rogers’ mission was spent in Alabama and on the campus of Florida State University. He was in Prichard, Ala., when the Utes played the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. He said people were respectful despite Alabama’s loss. People asked Rogers it if was hard to be so close to the big game and not get to see it or be part of it. It was, he says, but he was proud of the team and glad to be teaching the gospel.

Utah's Dallin Rogers, front, and Jake Murphy (82) at the University of Utah football team practice in August. Rogers and Murphy are both LDS returned missionaries. (Tom Smart, Deseret News archive) Utah's Dallin Rogers, front, and Jake Murphy (82) at the University of Utah football team practice in August. Rogers and Murphy are both LDS returned missionaries. (Tom Smart, Deseret News archive)

When he was assigned to the Florida State University campus, he and other missionaries received permission to run the stairs of Doak Campbell Stadium on preparation day. He also impressed several potential investigators when he hit four 3s and dunked in a pickup game of playground basketball.

Rogers will never forget getting an early morning phone call from an investigator who reported he’d been shot in a service station drive-by. The man was calling to ask for a priesthood blessing.

Among his many experiences, Rogers and his companions taught and baptized several individuals and families. He knew in his heart he had done the right thing in leaving to serve when he did. His mission president, Elder Lynn Summerhays, an Area Seventy, said Rogers was someone whom everyone loved.

Utah Utes tight end Dallin Rogers (89) catches a pass against Montana State. Rogers served an LDS mission to Tallahassee, Florida. (Tom Smart, Deseret News archive) Utah Utes tight end Dallin Rogers (89) catches a pass against Montana State. Rogers served an LDS mission to Tallahassee, Florida. (Tom Smart, Deseret News archive)

Elder Summerhays described a scene where an elder made an embarrassing comment at a zone conference. Not wanting the missionary to feel bad, Elder Rogers, following an awkward pause, stood and expressed love for the elder, turning the situation into a positive one.

“It was remarkably simple, but simply remarkable,” Elder Summerhays said. “It didn’t draw attention to Elder Rogers, but it brought strength to the young man who needed strengthening.”

When he returned to Utah in 2010, Rogers played in 12 games as a tight end, ending the year tied in catches among tight ends with 11 receptions for 167 yards. He was a consistent receiving target before suffering his knee injury.

Off the field, Rogers serves as the assistant ward mission leader, a calling he loves. He also enjoys attending a Book of Mormon institute class taught exclusively to the football team. He continues to draw on his mission experiences for strength.

Colorado State's Paul Madsen (76) positions to make a block on San Diego State's Miles Burris (9). Madsen, the younger brother of former NBA player Mark Madsen, served a mission in Lubbock, Texas. (Associated Press) Colorado State's Paul Madsen (76) positions to make a block on San Diego State's Miles Burris (9). Madsen, the younger brother of former NBA player Mark Madsen, served a mission in Lubbock, Texas. (Associated Press)

“It’s meant everything,” he said again.

Here is our list of returned LDS Church missionaries for Football Bowl Subdivision teams in 2011:

BYU (78)

Name, hometown, class, position

Michael Alisa, Provo, Utah (Timpview HS), So., RB

Famika Anae, Provo, Utah (Timpview HS), Fr., OL,

Tyler Beck, Murrieta, Calif. (Vista Murrieta HS), So., LB

Kevan Bills, Provo, Utah (Timpview HS), Fr., LB

Justin Blackmore, West Jordan, Utah (West Jordan HS), Fr., DL

Braden Brown, Salt Lake City (Highland HS), Jr., OL

Mark Asper is an offensive lineman for the Oregon Ducks. He served an LDS mission in Spain. (Oregon Sports Information) Mark Asper is an offensive lineman for the Oregon Ducks. He served an LDS mission in Spain. (Oregon Sports Information)

Rhen Brown, Alpine, Utah (Lone Peak HS), Jr., WR

Terence Brown, Summerville, S.C., Sr., OL

Trevor Brown, Provo, Utah (Timpview HS), Fr., TE

Robbie Buckner, Ashdown, Ark., Jr., DB

Nate Carter, St. George, Utah (Dixie HS), Fr., RB

Cameron Comer, Springville, Utah (Springville HS), Fr., DB

Tanner Cox, Pleasant View, Utah (Weber HS), Fr., LB

Dallin Cutler, Draper, Utah (Alta HS), So., WR

Ian Dulan, Hilo, Hawaii, (Kamehameha HS), Sr., DL

Matthew Edwards, N. Salt Lake City, Utah (Woods Cross HS), Sr., TE

Hebron Fangupo, Santa Ana, Calif. (Santa Ana HS), Sr., DL

Utah State wide receiver Eric Moats pulls in a catch against Hawaii. Moats served an LDS mission in Guatemala. (Associated Press) Utah State wide receiver Eric Moats pulls in a catch against Hawaii. Moats served an LDS mission in Guatemala. (Associated Press)

Ryan Folsom, Medford, Ore. (N. Medford HS), So., RB

David Foote, Washington, Utah (Pine View HS), Jr., RB

Jameson Frazier, Draper, Utah (Alta HS), Sr., LB

Ryan Freeman, Orem, Utah (Orem HS), Jr., OL

Kaneakua Friel, Kaneohe, Hawaii (Kamehamaha HS), So., TE

Romney Fuga, Huntington Beach, Calif. (Edison HS), Jr., DL

Preston Hadley, Pleasant Grove, Utah (Pleasant Grove HS), Jr., DB

Spencer Hadley, Connell, Wash. (Connell HS), So., LB

Spencer Hafoka, Kahuku, Hawaii, (Kahuku HS), Sr., WR

Mike Hague, Salt Lake City (Brighton HS), Jr., DB

Braden Hansen, Sandy, Utah (Alta HS), Jr, OL

USU receiver Eric Moats of Utah State is tackled by a BYU defender. Moats served an LDS mission to Guatemala. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News archive) USU receiver Eric Moats of Utah State is tackled by a BYU defender. Moats served an LDS mission to Guatemala. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News archive)

Connell Hess, Boise, Idaho (Capital HS), Jr., LB

Adam Hine, Santa Clara, Utah (Snow Canyon HS), Fr. RB

Austin Holt, South Jordan, Utah (Bingham HS), So., TE,

Reed Hornung, Anoka, Minn. (Snow College), Jr., Deep Snapper

McKay Jacobson, Southlake, Texas (Southlake Carroll HS), Sr., WR

Austen Jorgensen, Mt. Pleasant, Utah (N. Sanpete HS), Jr., LB

Solomone Kafu, Rio Linda, Calif. (Rio Linda HS), Fr., OL

Walter Kahaiali'i, Lahaina, Hawaii, (Kamehameha-Maui HS) Jr., DL

Bryan Kariya, Kaysville, Utah (Davis HS), Sr., RB

Teu Kautai, Arlington, Texas (Oakridge HS), Fr., DB

James Lark, St. George, Utah (Pine View HS), Jr., QB

Aveni Leung-Wai, Aiea, Hawaii, (Grossmont Jr. College) Sr., LB

Devin Mahina, Upland, Calif. (Upland HS), So., TE

Eathyn Manumaleuna, Anchorage, Alaska, (Timpview HS) Jr., DL

Marcus Mathews, Beaverton, Ore., (Southridge HS), So., TE

Carter Mees, St. George, Utah (Pine View HS), Jr., DB

Zed Mendenhall, Alpine, Utah (Lone Peak HS), Jr., RB

Cody Monsen, Brownwood, Texas (Temple HS), Fr., LB

Rex Morgan, Greely, Col. (Greely West HS), Fr., WR

Terrance Motley, Albuquerque, NM (Cibola HS), Fr., OL

Mike Muehlmann, American Fork, Utah (Am. Fork HS), So., DL

Jason Munns, Kennewick, Wash. (Southridge HS), So., QB

Riley Nelson, Logan, Utah (Logan HS), Jr., QB

Austin Nielsen, Glendale, Ariz. (Sandra O’Conner HS), Jr., LB

Brandon Ogletree, McKinney, Texas, (McKinney HS) Jr., LB

Chase Pendley, Sandy, Utah (Skyline HS), So., DB

Matt Peterson, Bluffdale, Utah (Riverton HS), Fr., DL,

Skye Povey, Ogden, Utah (Snow College), So., DB

Iona Pritchard, South Jordan, Utah (Bingham HS), So., RB

Seth Probert, Lebanon, Ore. (Lebanon HS), Fr., LB

Matt Putnam, Brigham City, Utah (Box Elder HS), Sr., DL

Cody Raymond, Sandy, Utah (Jordan HS), Fr., WR

Houston Reynolds, Provo, Utah (Timpview HS), So., OL

Matt Reynolds, Provo, Utah (Timpview HS), Sr., OL

Jordan Richardson, Idaho Falls, Idaho, (Bonneville HS) Jr., DL

Skyler Ridley, Murrieta, Calif. (Murrieta Valley HS), So., WR

Brian Smith, Orem, Utah (Mountain View HS), So., K/P

Jordan Smith, Salem, Utah (Spanish Fork HS), So., WR

Daniel Sorensen, Colton, Calif., Colton HS), So., DB

Justin Sorensen, South Jordan, Utah (Bingham HS), So., K

Riley Stephenson, St. George, Utah (Pine View HS), Jr., K/P

Brock Stringham, Highlands Ranch, Col. (Mountain Vista HS), Fr., OL

Marco Thorson, Ramona, Calif. (Ramona HS), Sr., OL

Dalin Tollestrup, Raymond, Alberta, (University of Calgary) Jr., WR

Travis Uale, Hawaii Kai, Hawaii, (Kamehameha HS) Sr., DB

Uani Unga, Rochester, Calif., (Oregon State), Jr., LB

Manaaki Vaitai, Euless, Texas (Trinity HS), So., OL

Simote Vea, Hau'ula, Hawaii, (BYU-Hawaii), Sr., DL

Jadon Wagner, Lethbridge, Alberta, (LCI) Jr., LB

Michael Yeck, Keller, Texas, (Keller HS) Fr., OL

UTAH (15)

Tony Bergstrom, Salt Lake City (Skyline HS), Sr., OL

Greg Bird, Mesa, Ariz. (Red Mountain HS), Sr., DB

David Fagergren, Salt Lake City (Highland HS), Southern Utah, Jr., LB

Sean Fitzgerald, Mission Viejo, Calif. (Mission Viejo HS), Fr., WR

Kenneth Golloday, Mesa, Ariz., Eastern Arizona, Sr., K

Mike Honeycutt, Cedar Hills, Utah (Lone Peak HS), So., DB

Griffin McNabb, Pocatello, (Highland HS), Idaho, Fr., WR

Jake Murphy, Alpine (American Fork HS), Utah, Fr., TE

Trevor Reilly, Valley Center, (Valley Center High), Calif., Fr., DE

Griff Robles, Spanish Fork, Utah (Sp. Fork HS), So., QB

Dallin Rogers, Placerville, Calif. (Union Mine HS), Jr., TE

Tevita Stevens, Hemet, Calif. (Hemet HS), Jr., OL

Tauni Vakapuna, Utah (Hunter HS, Dixie State), Sr. RB

Tyler Whittingham, Salt Lake City (Brighton HS), Sr., DB

J.J. Williams, Aurora, Colo. (Layton HS), Sr., LB,

UTAH STATE (12)

Jefferson Court, Alta, Utah (Alta HS), Fr., LB

Josh Johansen, Kaysville, Utah (Davis HS), Sr., WR

B.J. Larsen, Logan, Ut (Logan HS), Fr., DE

Eric Moats, Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Thunder Ridge), Sr., WR

Nate Needham, St. Georg, Utah (Pine View), Fr., Deep Snapper

Eric Schultz, Connell, Wash. (Connell HS), Fr., OL

Stetson Tenney, Show Low, Ariz. (Show Low HS), Jr., OL

Brad Theurer, Logan, Utah (Logan HS), So., TEeri

Josh Thompson, Logan, Utah (Logan HS), Fr., K

Kevin Whimpey, Highland, Utah (Lone Peak HS), So., OL

Kyle Whimpey, Highland, Utah (Lone Peak HS), So., OL

Cam Webb, Millville, Utah. (Mtn. Crest HS), Jr., WR

COLORADO STATE (2)

Paul Madsen, Provo, Utah (San Ramon Valley HS), Sr., OL

Drew Reilly, Valley Center, Calif. (Valley Center HS), Fr., DB

OREGON (2)

Mark Asper, Idaho Falls, Idaho, (Bonneville HS) Sr., OL

Hamani Stevens, Hemet, Calif. (Hemet HS), Oregon, Fr, OL

OREGON STATE (3)

Rudolf Fifita, Euless, Texas (Mt. San Antonio CC) Jr., DE

Geoff Garner, Mesa, Ariz., (Mesa HS) So., OL

Kevin “Feti” Unga (Oregon State), Rochester, Calif. (Kahuku, HS (Hawaii), Jr., LB

SAN JOSE STATE (2)

Peter Tuitupou, Orem, Utah, (Snow College) Jr., TE

David Tuitupou, Orem, Utah, (Snow College) Jr., DE

OTHER SCHOOLS (2)

Stephen Atrice (Air Force), Fairburn, Ga, (Sandy Creek HS), Jr., LB

William Vea (UNLV), Alamo, Nev. (Pahranagat Valley HS), Fr., FB

Know of anyone we've missed? Email us at mormontimes@desnews.com with their name and team.

Trent Toone also blogs at mormonsinsports.blogs.deseretnews.com Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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