George Rogers was highly recruited out of high school, and decided to attend the University of South Carolina when coach Jim Carlen told him that he could play in his freshman year. Due to his large size, he seemed destined to play fullback rather than tailback. However, the Gamecocks had two running backs who graduated at the same time, so he began his college career as the starting tailback midway through his freshman season.
Rogers rushed for 1,006 yards (playing in only eight games) during his sophomore year, despite splitting time with fellow sophomore Johnnie Wright. However, it was Rogers' junior campaign that launched him into the national spotlight, as he was one of the best rushers in the country with 1,681 yards.
After that season, Rogers was given Second Team All-America Honors by the Associated Press, National Editorial Alliance, United Press International, American Football Coaches, and Football News.
In 1980, the stage was set when the Gamecocks returned plenty of talent, which was headlined by senior and Heisman candidate Rogers. While South Carolina's 8-3 record was good, Rogers' final season was better. His 1,781 yards was the best in the nation and earned him a spot as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
The Downtown Athletic Club in New York City named Rogers as the winner of the 1980 Heisman Trophy. Rogers beat out an impressive group of players, including Pittsburgh defensive lineman Hugh Green and Georgia running back Herschel Walker. Rogers also earned spots on eight All-America teams, all First Team honors.
Rogers had his number "38" retired during halftime ceremonies at South Carolina's final 1980 home game. He was the first University of South Carolina player to have his jersey retired while still active at the school.
Rogers left the Gamecock football program as its most successful running back, and many of his records remain after all these years. His 5,204 yards is still the highest career total by any Gamecock running back, and his 31 rushing touchdowns is tied with Harold Green for first. He is second on the all-time points scored list with 202. He also gained more than 100 yards in each of his final 22 college games.
George Rogers of South Carolina and Hugh Green of Pittsburgh waged a furious battle for the Heisman, with Rogers getting 216 first place votes to 179 for Green. Green's first place votes and his points total were the highest ever gained by a lineman. Third place finisher Herschel Walker of Georgia had the highest point total ever recorded by a freshman.