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College Athlete Discovers Purpose Beyond the Football Field

Virginia Tech fullback Sam Rogers helps to solidify the Hokies run game. He earned the starting job as a freshman walk-on in 2014. Last season he was second in rushing yards for the team. With a new head coach, he’s looking to expand on that this season. He says though he’s seen some success, he’s learned not to allow what happens on the football field to define who he is.  

“I may love football but it doesn’t necessarily love me back. I’ve had a lot of surgeries, I’ve had some injuries that have set me back. When you find your identity in football and in your sport, it’s going to let you down. It’s going to leave you hurt. Jesus doesn’t do that; He doesn’t let you down,” said Sam.
 
That’s a lesson Sam learned while in high school. He became a Christian at an early age but says at the time, he wasn’t all in and went through the motions because that’s what was expected of him.
 
“I could kind of give you all the right answers, like if you asked me who God was I could tell you. If you asked me who Jesus was, I’d tell you He died for my sins. But it was kind of just that surface level kind of stuff. And I’m a people pleaser, I would say, so I tried to please my friends, my parents, my parents’ friends,” said Sam.

As a result, Sam didn’t know how to prioritize his faith over football.

“My sport was my God. I think that was the most important thing to me. And I found that out when I wouldn’t succeed in my sport and how I’d respond when I wouldn’t succeed. I mean, it would crush me when I didn’t do well.”

In fact, it crushed him so much that he began taking it out on those around him.  

 

“Until I got another chance to fix it, I wouldn’t be okay. I wouldn’t treat people the right way. I wouldn’t be happy about anything. So I definitely think sports kind of took over in that way for me,” said Sam.

But Sam’s junior year his heart began to change.

“A couple people, through Young Life actually, and FCA and things like that, people really started talking about who Jesus was. And it really started to hit me like what He did for me. And the gospel kind of took like a whole new picture in my head of man, this guy really came down to die for me personally. It became more of a personal relationship. Through that, I mean He just kept taking control of my heart,” said Sam.

Sam decided it was time to fully give his life to the Lord.

“I think it just happens in your heart. Like, when you saying, ‘Alright I’m going to do this for real.’ I remember praying a prayer something like this: Like God, I don't know if I’m already saved, but I want to know that I am and I know that You died for me and if I’ve never said this before, I fully accept this gift. From that moment on it’s really been very important to me and God just kept drawing me in, in the midst of my sin and in the midst of my struggles, He still loved me and that’s—just His grace has kept me,” said Sam.

Sam had a stellar high school career but not many college offers. Late in his senior year Virginia Tech offered him a preferred walk-on spot.

“They both said that they think that I could play early. And my goal always was to play right away. So I decided, I felt more at home here when I came to VA Tech on campus. I decided to come here and I was able to start right away coming here and I ended up winning the fullback spot and started as a freshman.”

Since becoming a Hokie, Sam hasn’t wavered in his commitment to his faith. He regularly attends bible study and events sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian athletes to make sure he keeps god as the center of every aspect of his life….especially football. He wants to share this message with the world.

 “I can’t guarantee success as the world puts it. And I don’t think the Bible says that. But I can guarantee that God’s going to be with you through all through the highs and the lows and you’re not going to have any better peace than with Jesus. And when my identity comes from that, there’s so much peace that comes with that. And you’re going to realize that’s what you’ve been looking for the whole time. I realize that I’ve played in front of 70,000, 110,000 people before and I scored touchdowns in front of that many people. And there’s nothing that compares to the satisfaction of coming with Jesus,” said Sam.

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