This No. 15, unlike their last one, might actually be given the chance to make an impact for the Jets .
Zach Rogers, an undrafted rookie free agent who is trying to latch on with the Jets, is making a case to get a look at next month’s minicamp and perhaps beyond. Rogers comes to the Jets as an underappreciated wide receiver at Tennessee, where last year he was fourth on the Volunteers in receiving yards. But he’s a solid route runner with very quick feet and even faster hands and he comes to the Jets with a legitimate chance at making the roster.
And he inherits jersey No. 15, the same number worn last year by quarterback Tim Tebow, who was released shortly after the NFL Draft. Tebow, of course, is the much-talked-about and highly scrutinized quarterback who spent an underwhelming season with the Jets in 2012.
“When I got here, that was the number given to me. I literally just walked in and that was the number given to me,” Rogers said following OTAs earlier this week. “I knew it was his number, as I watched him last year, but I just wanted to roll with it.”
Before the NFL Draft, Rogers prepared for his Pro Day at the Volunteers’ facility at D1 Sports Training just outside of Nashville, Tenn. There he was joined in his workouts by none other than Tebow himself.
The Jets’ last No. 15 was throwing passes to the Jets’ current incarnation of that number.
“He was great to work with and a great guy,” Rogers said. “He was always very open with us and willing to give his time and share his thoughts on playing in the league. He was a great guy.”
Rogers was often overlooked in an offense which boasted wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. During his Pro Day at Tennessee earlier this spring, Rogers was clocked running a 4.49-second time in the 40-yard dash and he has drawn comparisons to Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola.
He always seems to be in the right spot and he said he worked hard in college on developing quick hands so he can show for the ball and get yards after the catch.
“That’s what I need to do to make a name for myself,” Rogers said. “I’m not big in stature, I’m not the fastest guy out there, but I have to work technique to open up leverage for me.”
Tebow’s time with the Jets was lackluster to say the least. He was used only in the Wildcat offense and on special teams as a personal punt protector. Not one of his eight passes thrown last year was in the conventional offense. He arrived in New York to a press conference with 150 media memebers and a dozen television cameras. He left with questions about his NFL future.
Rogers is hoping his future in the NFL is bright. He earned praise from head coach Rex Ryan two weeks ago during rookie minicamp.
Unlike Tebow, Rogers is hoping to stick around for a while.
“I know Tim made a name for himself here wearing that number and I want to do the same,” Rogers said. “I need to go out there and work hard and show the coaching staff what I can do so that No. 15 is my own.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.