• John Macon Gillespie

Independence's James Rodgers Looks For Improvement, Redemption With 2019 Fortius Project

The 2019 Fortius Project will get underway with its first

establishment at NEMCC on Mar. 2.

In the week leading up to Independence High School's 2018 spring jamboree, quarterback James Rodgers Jr. experienced an athlete's worst nightmare: a torn ACL.

After his injury, Rodgers missed the entirety of the 2018 season, a campaign in which his Wildcats went 5-7 and were eliminated by Clarksdale in the first round of the postseason.

"[The injury] was horrible," Rodgers said. "[It's] something I never want to experience again, but I was able to have a strong recovery, and I was able to play basketball. It's something I'll never forget."

Although the Wildcats did not finish with a winning record and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2018, Rodgers is pleased with the steps Independence's younger talent took over the course of the season.

"[The season was] pretty good," Rodgers said. "We were young and had guys in different positions doing things they weren't used to, but it turned out well."

After the disappointment of an ACL tear, Rodgers is looking to bounce back in a big way in his senior football season, a journey that will start with his participation in the 2019 Fortius Project at Northeast Mississippi Community College.

"[I want] to showcase my talent and compare my athletic abilities to other quarterbacks at the camp and do my best to learn from the coaches there," Rodgers said. "Footwork is something that I'm going to focus on a lot this offseason."

Working on footwork and other areas at the Fortius Project is a step towards fulfilling Rodgers' goals for the 2019 season.

"As a player, I just want to make up for last year's season," Rodgers said, "but as a team, we're coming into 2019 with a lot of confidence, and we plan on reaching the highest goal there is, and that's going to state."

In order for Independece to take the next step as a program and push deeper into the postseason, Rodgers believes that the talent on the roster needs to progress not just physically, but mentally as well.

"[We need] to grow mentally and be able to handle adversity," Rodgers said. "We have one of the toughest districts in 3A [which includes] the defending state champs, Water Valley."

Water Valley may not be the only source of adversity faced by the Wildcats in 2019 as the reigning division champion North Panola returns a talented squad as well. North Panola and Water Valley met in the 3A North Half Finals in 2018.

To compete with Rodgers and other Mississippi high school athletes at the 2019 Fortius Project, head over to to sign up.

#FortiusProject #Independence

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