By Jim Wyatt | The Tennessean
As a cashier at Kroger in Goodlettsville the past seven years, Rogers Gaines received plenty of double takes.
At 6-foot-7, he was noticed for his size — if something was needed off the top shelf on aisle 10, Gaines was the guy — but also for his demeanor.
“He was like the Jolly Green Giant,” store manager Don Cox said. “And the customers loved him because he always had a smile on his face. He was a giant all right, but I don’t think anyone around here has ever seen him mad.”
This week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Gaines wants to turn heads for another reason.
“I am going to shock a lot of people,” Gaines said. “I know I am a sleeper, most definitely, coming from Tennessee State. But if you can play, you can play, and I’ve worked my butt off to put myself in this position. So hopefully it will pay off for me.”
Gaines, a two-sport star coming out of White House High School, initially attracted some bigger programs, including Tennessee, but he wasn’t an immediate qualifier and ended up at TSU.
He made the most of his opportunity.
After two seasons as a backup, Gaines was All-OVC second team as a junior and first team as a senior, when the Tigers led the Ohio Valley Conference in rushing. (TSU lineman Sherman Carter also has attracted attention from NFL scouts, but he wasn’t invited to the combine.)
As a senior, Gaines played left tackle and didn’t allow a sack.
“You could really start to see his transformation last summer,” TSU coach Rod Reed said. “I thought he really put his time in and worked hard to turn into the player he’s become. … And (scouts) found him. If there are 32 NFL teams, 29 teams have been in to look at him.”
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