Tennessee wide receiver Austin Rogers will miss the 2009 season with a torn knee ligament suffered last week during voluntary workouts.
According to head athletic trainer Jason McVeigh, Rogers tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Friday. Rogers is expected to undergo surgery in the coming weeks.
That injury could prove career-ending for the fifth-year senior.
Rogers could appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. Without a successful appeal, Rogers' career with the Vols would be over. Any appeal would likely come after Tennessee's season ends.
Rogers, who has started 19 games but slid to second team on UT's post-spring depth chart, was awarded a medical redshirt in 2006, when he suffered a shoulder injury and mononucleosis prevented his return to the lineup. He played in three games that season, including his first career start against Air Force.
The Vols' recent history is mixed when it comes to extending the NCAA's five-year eligibility clock.
Last season, cornerback Antonio Gaines was granted a sixth year, after a high school knee injury forced him to miss his freshman year in 2003. As a fifth-year senior in 2007, he started the Vols' first two games before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Southern Miss.
Also in 2007, tight end Brad Cottam appealed for a sixth year of eligibility after breaking his wrist during the Vols' final preseason scrimmage. After his appeal for an extra year was denied, he played in UT's final five games of the season before being drafted in the third round by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Rogers' chances for a sixth year could be bolstered by the fact he will miss the upcoming season, unlike Cottam, who redshirted as a true freshman and never missed a full season despite undergoing five surgeries which cost him significant playing time.
Rogers is the second UT player to suffer a season-ending injury this offseason. Last month, true freshman tailback Toney Williams also tore his ACL during voluntary workouts.
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.