Germany Law Firm - Mississippi Scoreboard

By Robert Wilson

One wears Number 1 for Ole Miss. The other one wears Number 2 for Mississippi State. They are as close of friends as their numbers are. 

Jonathan Mingo, Number 1 for Ole Miss, and Will Rogers, Number 2 for MSU, have been close friends since their days at Brandon Middle School. 

The two will play against each other in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving Day at 6 p.m. on ESPN. 

Both have had outstanding college careers.

Rogers, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior quarterback, has set two SEC career records with 1,103 completions and 1,556 attempts and an additional three school career records with 10,189 passing yards, 79 touchdown passes and 20 300-yard passing games. He is tied with 29 200-yard passing games. Rogers ranks first in completions and attempts, sixth in TD passes and seventh in passing yards in the country this season.

Photo by Jared Thomas

Mingo, a 6-2, 225-pound senior wide receiver, set a school record with 247 receiving yards against Vanderbilt this season. It is the most receiving yards by any player in the country this season. Mingo is one of only 14 receivers to have a 200-game yard this season. He is second in the SEC with 768 receiving yards and fourth in the SEC and No. 16 in the country with 18.7 yards per catch this season. Mingo has caught 102 passes for 1,625 yards and 12 TDs and made 37 starts in his career.

But before all those superlatives in college, Mingo and Rogers were good friends in Brandon. Mingo is a year older than Rogers and they became friends in middle school. And then when Rogers became the starting quarterback as a sophomore in high school, he and Mingo became an incredible duo, connecting on hundreds of passes and dozens of touchdowns for two seasons.

“Jonathan and Will are and have been close friends for years,” said Tyler Peterson, who was Mingo and Roger’s head coach at Brandon High and is now offensive coordinator at Clinton High. “They were great leaders, on the field, in the weight room, and off the field. They have had great careers in college and I’m so proud of them. I am always happy they stayed in state, and we’ve been able to watch them succeed and help our state schools win playing in the SEC, the toughest conference in the country.”

“They’ve been friends since the eighth grade,” said Wyatt Rogers, Will’s father, and Brandon’s offensive coordinator. “They are very close. I can remember between Will’s freshman and sophomore year I got a call from a principal at the middle school (where our old stadium was) and he was freaking out because it was prom night, and someone had cut the lights on at the stadium. Someone called and reported kids on the field and with it being prom night you can imagine the principal was pretty nervous. So I jump in my truck and get up there and it’s Will and Mingo up there working out – throwing and catching. That was about as far as either of them bent the rules. They were always about getting better. I think they feed off each other. I know one team will lose, but I hope both kids have the game of their life. They’ve paid the price and will both grow from the experience.”

They got together often after and before practice in high school to work out and get better. It paid off. Both excelled at Brandon.

Mingo caught 77 passes for 1,451 yards and 14 TDs and helped Brandon to a 13-2 record and the MHSAA Class 6A state semifinals as a senior in 2018. He was named to the Under Armour All-American Game.

Rogers passed for 2,476 yards and 18 TDs as a sophomore and 3,009 yards and 23 TDs as a junior, with both those years majority of those passes going to Mingo. He passed for 3,572 yards and 38 TDs with only three interceptions and was named the first PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Player of the Year as a senior in 2019.
        Even though they are playing at different colleges, Mingo and Rogers talk several times a week. They talk about their teams, each other teams, teams will play and teams play and life in general. And, of course, after they finish their games, they find out how the other one did.

Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics Buy Photos at Twitter/Instagram: @OleMissPix

The best week of their college relationship happened earlier this season when Mingo and Rogers shared the SEC Offensive Player of the Week award. Rogers passed for 406 yards and three TDs and set the SEC career completion record in a win over Arkansas. Mingo set a school record with 247 receiving yards against Vanderbilt on the same day.

       No. 20 Ole Miss, 8-3, is the favorite over unranked MSU, 7-4, in this year’s game. Ole Miss has won the last two years and leads the series 64-46-6 in one of the oldest rivalries in the country. The teams have split the last 30 games.

       There probably hasn’t been many friendships as close as Mingo and Rogers’ in this rivalry that started in 1901. Despite the final score, they will exchange handshakes and hugs on the field after the game and be talking on the phone over the Thanksgiving weekend and throughout the offseason. Their bond is much stronger than this game.