By Robert Wilson

       Will Rogers grew up a Rebel fan and played football as a Bulldog in high school and college. And Friday, the record-setting SEC quarterback from Brandon High and Mississippi State, became a Washington Huskie.

       Rogers has verbally committed to Washington, his father, Wyatt Rogers, told Mississippi Scoreboard Friday night. Will and Wyatt Rogers flew up to Seattle Thursday.

       Undefeated Washington is the No. 2 seed in the college football playoff and meets No. 3 seed Texas in one semifinal in the Sugar Bowl Jan. 1 at 7:45 p.m. Central in New Orleans. The winner plays for the national championship.

       Rogers – who ranks first in SEC history in with 1,301 completions and second in SEC history with 12,315 passing yards – has one year of eligibility remaining and will be immediately eligible. He played four years at MSU, the first three under the late Mike Leach in his famous Air Raid offense.

       Rogers is expected to replace Michael Penix, who has led Washington to its undefeated season, the Pac-12 championship and the College Football Playoff and finished second for the Heisman Trophy.

       Washington, along with former Pac-12 members Oregon, Southern Cal and UCLA, have joined the Big 10 and will play a conference schedule in 2024.

Rogers will play for Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, who guided Washington to the nation’s top passing team (343.8 yards per game) this season.

“Obviously how Coach Grubb runs his offense, it’s one of the tops in the country with how they score points and how quarterback friendly the system is,” Rogers told ESPN. “People started to catch on to them in 2022, that’s when the whole nation took notice. Things didn’t go as planned this year (for me), and I entered the portal. I had hoped that they would reach out.” 

This move will take Rogers about 2,500 miles away from his home in Brandon.

“It was nice to have family and friends to watch all the games,” Rogers said. “But at some point, you have to think about what’s best for your career. This is the best move for me and my family. That’s what we think is best.”

Rogers is the only quarterback in SEC history to complete more than 1,000 passes (1,301) and started 38 games at MSU. If he has another great season like he did as a junior in Starkville, Rogers could climb into the top five passers in college history.

He hopes to bounce back from this past season. Under first-year coach Zack Arnett, who was promoted from defensive coordinator, Rogers passed for only 1,626 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games and missed several games due to a shoulder injury. Arnett brought in offensive coordinator Kevin Barbay and a new more balanced, run-oriented offense.

“I know I have one more crack at it,” Rogers. “I know I had to do what I had to do — win as many games as possible. It’s a place I feel like they throw the ball around a lot, as we did my first three years at Mississippi State. That’s something I’ll be excited about coming in.” 

Two MSU connections helped Rogers made the decision. MSU strength coach Tyson Brown played for DeBoer and Grubb at Sioux Falls, and former MSU teammate Dillon Johnson had a great season this year at Washington (1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns).

“Him going there and having some success was eye-opening for a lot of people,” Rogers said. “It was eye-opening for a lot of people in the locker room. It’s college football these days, man. When someone leaves the SEC that you played with and has some success, you have to take notice of that.” 

Former MSU running back Woody Marks is expected to visit Washington this weekend and might be committing to the Huskies like Rogers. Marks ranks first in career receptions and career receiving yards for a running back in school history. He started more than 40 games and has more than 3,000 career rushing yards. He led MSU with 573 rushing yards despite missing three games with a leg injury this season.

Rogers and Washington open the season next year with four home games, Weber State, Eastern Michigan, the Apple Cup game with Washington State and its first Big 10 Conference game with Northwestern.