Rodgers Retained to Lead Special Teams

MANHATTAN, Kan. After guiding the Kansas State special teams units to unprecedented heights in 2008, Jeff Rodgers will be retained as the program’s special teams coordinator while also being tabbed as the school’s recruiting coordinator, head football coach Bill Snyder has announced.


In his first season with the Wildcats, Rodgers maintained Kansas State’s reputation on special teams while elevating one of the nation’s finest units to an even higher level.


This past season, Kansas State led the nation and set a school record with nine total blocked kicks, which included a school-record three field goal blocks from All-Big 12 performer Ian Campbell, and also topped the nation in kickoff coverage starting point (21.9) and ranked ninth nationally after yielding just 18.16 yards per kickoff return.


K-State totaled six scores on special teams in 2008, four of which came via blocked punts, as the Wildcats also led the nation in blocked punts (4) and punt return touchdowns (5).


In the return game, Rodgers tutored Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Brandon Banks, who garnered honorable mention All-Big 12 accolades as both a kick and punt returner. Banks collected 498 yards on 18 kickoff returns and five punt returns for 58 yards this past season and boasted a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Nebraska, which tied for the fourth-longest in school history.


Kicker Brooks Rossman also grabbed All-Big 12 honors under Rodgers this past season as the senior closed out his Wildcat career near the top of every school kicking record. After connecting on 9-of-12 field goals in 2008, Rossman ended his career ranked fourth in school history in field goal percentage, sixth in field goals made, and seventh in field goals attempted. Rossman was also a key cog in the Wildcats’ dominant kickoff return defense as his 22 touchbacks through 12 games ranked 10th nationally.


Rodgers, who came to Kansas State a year ago as one of the NFL’s bright young coaches with strong recruiting ties to the state of the Texas, spent the previous five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, the final three as the assistant special teams coach, where he helped the 49ers’ unit rank among the league’s best. Rodgers joined the 49ers’ organization in 2003 and served two seasons as the special teams quality control coach before being named an assistant.


San Francisco, in 2007 under Rodgers, led the NFC and was second in the NFL in net punting as NFC Pro Bowl honoree Andy Lee averaged 47.3 yards a kick and netted 41.0 for the year. The 49ers became just the second team in NFL history to net 40-plus yards a kick during a season, while Lee and the 49ers also set the NFL record with 42 kicks being downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Lee set career highs for the second straight season in punting average and net punting while also punting for more than 3,500 yards for the fourth time in his career. The 49ers also led the NFL in kickoff coverage, forcing opponents to an average starting field position at their own 24.9 yard line, and ranked 11th in the league and sixth in the NFC in kickoff returns with a 23.3 average.


In 2006, the 49ers special teams unit was led by kicker Joe Nedney, who led the team in points with 116, the second-highest total of his career. In the return game, Maurice Hicks surpassed the franchise record for total kickoff returns (57) and kickoff return yards (1,428) and also led the unit in tackles with 20. In 2005, Nedney connected on 26-of-28 field goals and was NFC Special Teams Player of Week after his five field goal performance against Tampa Bay. The 49ers special teams performed well as a unit, finishing third in the league in kickoff coverage in 2005, while long snapper Brian Jennings was named to the 2004 Pro Bowl. In Rodgers’ first season in San Francisco, the 49ers led the NFL with five special teams take-aways.


Rodgers joined the 49ers staff from the University of Arizona, where he spent two seasons as a graduate assistant on defense, working with the secondary in 2001 and the flex linebackers in 2002. He played four seasons at linebacker for North Texas where he earned his degree in business, specializing in entrepreneurship and strategic management in 2000. Rodgers prepped at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, but was born in St. Paul, Minn.