By John R. Schirmer
Two of Coach Mike Volarvich’s former players from his days as offensive coordinator at Henderson State University came to Nashville Friday afternoon to visit their coach and to talk to his Nashville Scrappers.
Record-setting quarterback Kevin Rodgers and tight end Sean McGrath played for Volarvich at HSU. They made brief comments to the Scrappers before joining the team for off-season workouts in the Scrapper Dome.
“These are two of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” Volarvich said in introducing the former Reddies.
“Kevin Rodgers already had 12 hours of college credit when he came to Henderson. He graduated early and worked on his master’s degree. Sean McGrath graduated and went to the pros. Kevin has almost finished his master’s,” Volarvich said.
Rodgers is the all-time leading passer in Arkansas college football at any level. He passed for more than 13,500 yards during his days as the Reddies’ quarterback.
Rodgers spoke to the Scrappers first, telling them that “there’s not a better guy to teach you than Coach V. He teaches football, and he teaches life in general.”
Rodgers urged the Scrappers “to be the hardest working guys. Listen to your coaches. Listen to your parents. Soak in the coaches’ knowledge.”
As a high school player, Rodgers worked his way up from “the B team then to the varsity,” where he played one year and received an offer to Henderson.
“The first spring I was there, I threw more picks than touchdowns. Then I worked in during the fall, and things started clicking. I was a late bloomer,” Rodgers said, noting that he is 6-3, 215 now but was smaller in his high school and early college days.
McGrath made four points with the Scrappers.
“First, you’re a student-athlete. It’s important to be a student. It’s not where you start but where you end up that really matters.
“Second, be gritty.
“Third, have fun.
“Fourth, surround yourself with good people.”
Volarvich told the Scrappers that McGrath called him after his first season as a pro and said, “Coach, I’m retiring; I’m not having fun.” He showed up for work at 5:30 a.m. and left at 5:30 p.m. or later. “It’s a job.”
Volarvich asked McGrath what he planned to do if he retired. “You’re a studio art major. What will you do?”
McGrath returned to football and worked his way back into the line-up for the San Diego Chargers.
After the players spoke, Volarvich told the Scrappers that “everybody goes to off-season workouts every day. What do you do that those hundreds of thousands of players don’t do?”
Following their presentation, Rodgers and McGrath worked out with the Scrappers, participating in agility drills and spending time in the weight room.