Justin Hunter, Da'Rick Rogers see room to improve

Hunter, Rogers see room to improve

Media Day 2011: Highlights and Outtakes from Neyland Stadium

Know your Vols: Ben Martin

Saul Young/News Sentinel
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley waits for stands with the team for photos during the University of Tennessee's football media day on Sunday at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Saul Young, copyright © 2011

Saul Young/News Sentinel Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley waits for stands with the team for photos during the University of Tennessee's football media day on Sunday at Neyland Stadium.

Hunter, Rogers see room to improve

By Andrew Gribble

gribblea@knoxnews.com

Charlie Baggett laughs about it now, but there weren't many smiles to be found after he summoned Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers to the film room midway through last season.

Focused on developing his freshman receivers into future SEC stars, the Tennessee wide receivers coach showed the pair clip after clip of Alabama's Julio Jones and Georgia's A.J. Green piling up catches and touchdowns throughout their respective sophomore and junior seasons.

Both Jones and Green were instant stars as freshmen, but the progress they made in years two and three of their college careers solidified their status as top 10 selections in this year's NFL Draft.

That's all Baggett was trying to display, but it inadvertently rubbed Hunter and Rogers the wrong way.

"Julio Jones is one of my top receivers that I do enjoy watch playing," Rogers said. "But he showed us Julio Jones against us. That really was a sore subject."

Jones caught an Alabama record 12 passes for 221 yards against the Vols last season. Green, in his last two games against the Vols, had a combined 14 catches, 156 yards and a touchdown.

Needless to say, there were plenty of highlights to choose from.

Both Jones and Green went from great to elite by the time they went pro. Baggett and the Vols will settle for good to great from their top two receivers this season.

"You never know when players are going to mature and develop into what they need to be," Baggett said. "As freshmen, I think Da'Rick and Justin came along well from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. If they can make those kind of strides and that kind of jump in progress this year early, I think the sky's the limit for them."

Though it's largely an apples-to-oranges comparison, Baggett said he sees similarities between how Rogers and Hunter have approached practice as sophomores and how Cris Carter and Randy Moss did during Baggett's time with the Minnesota Vikings.

Carter provided a stabilizing, veteran presence for the sometimes incorrigible Moss. He was able to maximize Moss' potential in practice settings by challenging him in drills, riding him when he ran a route poorly and talking plenty of trash whenever he bested him on a certain play, Baggett said.

Rogers and Hunter both admitted Sunday that there has been plenty of chatter tossed back an forth since the spring, when the onus was placed squarely on their shoulders to fill the void left by departed seniors Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones.

"It motivates them to get going," Baggett said. "I think it's good for each other."

It all starts and finishes with the catch chart, which tracks every single pass thrown their way during practice. Before Monday's practice, Hunter had caught 95 percent of his passes, a total that led the team. Rogers was in second with 91.

"Every day he's always creeping up on me and telling me I'm coming for you," Hunter said.

Made aware that Hunter was telling reporters about his advantage, Rogers grimaced.

"Everywhere I'm going I'm hearing about the catch chart," Rogers said. "He keeps bringing it up because right now he's at the top.

"He has about four drops all camp. I have eight, so I guess, right now, his hands are better than mine."

Within the confines of their personal competition, Rogers has been playing catch-up to Hunter since both arrived at UT. While Rogers struggled to find the field until the latter part of the season, Hunter was one of the SEC's top freshmen, catching 16 passes for 415 yards and seven touchdowns.

Rogers, who is the first to admit that his work ethic wasn't initially at the level it should have been, caught 11 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, chipped in with 117 rushing yards and also earned a spot on the kickoff return team.

Watching Hunter, who had significantly less hype surrounding his recruitment than he did, and then seeing where players such as Jones and Green landed professionally, made it a no-brainer for Rogers.

He had to watch and learn from some of the SEC's best -- even if they were improving right before his eyes at UT's expense.

"It can happen," Rogers said. "I really know what it takes. You grow up watching them and you go into the same league with them. Then you watch and see where they're at now.

"It really gives you hope."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 25

mdvol writes:

Got to love the weapons on offense! Finally we might force the defense to play us honest and not stack 8 or 9 in the box. This is gonna be fun!

VOLS start the season 4-0! (Georgia 0-2)

RaineyVol writes:

Vols just got a committ from 4* DB LaDarrell McNeil two 4* DBs in two days!!

Huttdawg100 writes:

Which one are you going to double team? What side does the safety cheat to? That's going to be a problem for defenses.

lomas98 writes:

I really like the talent of the receivers, but losing those 2 senior wideouts from last year as well as stocker is going to have an impact. I hope Bray can continue at the level he was at minus the top targets he was throwing to. Hopefully these guys will be able to do the short and intermediate stuff just as good as they do the deep balls.

VolGrad writes:

Coach 'em up, Charlie.

Go Vols!

BarackyTop writes:

Rogers and Hunter both admitted Sunday that there has been plenty of chatter tossed back an forth since the spring, when the onus was placed squarely on their shoulders to fill the void left by departed seniors Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones.

ONUS?

VolGrad writes:

in response to BarackyTop:

Rogers and Hunter both admitted Sunday that there has been plenty of chatter tossed back an forth since the spring, when the onus was placed squarely on their shoulders to fill the void left by departed seniors Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones.

ONUS?

synonyms: burden, obligation

UTbassdrummer writes:

Yeah, Onus. The oss hole.

OrangePsyched writes:

in response to RaineyVol:

Vols just got a committ from 4* DB LaDarrell McNeil two 4* DBs in two days!!

If this is true and we added McNeil this class is moving up the recruiting charts fast. CDD and staff certainly do have things under control.

DannyVol writes:

in response to BarackyTop:

Rogers and Hunter both admitted Sunday that there has been plenty of chatter tossed back an forth since the spring, when the onus was placed squarely on their shoulders to fill the void left by departed seniors Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones.

ONUS?

Ha! Noticed that too. I'm sure they were burdened with the responsibility of gaining more targets. Receivers hate that.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

This why I laugh when I read about Arkansas having the best receivers in the country. If you've been a Vols fan for a while, you realize that we have seen the best of the best come through here. We know it when we see it. And talent plus hard work is what championships are made from. Hard..A#$ work.....Nothing else....Nothing....

Go_Big_O writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just imagine the 2012 season when we have the players from 3 years of solid recruiting and a coaching staff that knows what they are doing!

I'm salivating all over myself just thinking about it!

huntined#565710 writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

At least we are leading in our state

Vol43 writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Seems to me you have imminently more important problems facing your pathetic gay_tors over in Tallahassee. You want to trash talk Volunteers, but you may want to concern yourselves with your "Daddy" FSU. You'd better hope to God that FSU doesn't join the SEC. And, you know why.....

troubleinc writes:

in response to Vol43:

Seems to me you have imminently more important problems facing your pathetic gay_tors over in Tallahassee. You want to trash talk Volunteers, but you may want to concern yourselves with your "Daddy" FSU. You'd better hope to God that FSU doesn't join the SEC. And, you know why.....

Well said vol43!

springtx_vol writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yet, we have two very good players that are not ranked by Rivals, Khalid Henderson and JC Commit Damien Jacobs. From what I have seen, they are both the real deal.

Further, two areas of needs, kick returner and kicker, are both 2 star commits (from rivals). Our class will end up being much higher than 34. Plus, we are still filling positions of need. Get two or three big DL recuits and I think that we will have had a great recruiting class for this year.

If you would grant that Hendeson and Jacobs are potentially 4 star players, that moves the average up to 3.2 stars. If you then drop the kicker (who are normally walkons) and Blanc as a local kid who will probably return kicks, the average jumps to 3.4 which is 10th in Rivals. Looks like a good class to me!

By my count, we are already at 87 scholarship players for next year. How much more room do we have without running some players off? This does not consider things like JJ going to the NFL early.

GBO

keviningeorgia writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Blahhh blahh bablahh blahh UT bad, Dooley bad. Blahhh bablahh, blahhh UT bad blahhh blahhhhhhh….

Vol43 writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

One more thing DA. Your "Daddy" Jimbo Fisher has his Seminoles ranked 5th in the nation. You might want to spew your venom over on Tomahawk Nation instead of here.

GONAVY writes:

My only observation to all this mindless bantering back and forth over this or that starred recruit is this: nothing matters until each young man hits the practice field. Ok, so some school signs fifteen 5 star recruits based on some service. Fine. The proof is in the pudding. When they hit the field and start impacting games, talk smack. Until then, focus on what's in the barn and on the field. UT has a huge amount of ground to make up insofar as recruiting goes; but I do like Dooley and think he is on the right track. Job 1 is beating Montana by the speed limit.

imw8n4u writes:

whatever happened to Gator99? He used to be a respectable gator fan who actually brought up meaningful discussion points. Now all we get are these losers who have nothing but trash to puke out over and over.

msinva writes:

in response to imw8n4u:

whatever happened to Gator99? He used to be a respectable gator fan who actually brought up meaningful discussion points. Now all we get are these losers who have nothing but trash to puke out over and over.

Agree....Gator99 is a real fan of his team, but always objective.

JV67 writes:

Both of these guys have the potential to continue the WIDE RECEIVER U tradition. Will they live up to it? I sure hope so....GBO!!!!!

milhaudmeto writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

actually we're 24th in Rivals/ 21st in Espn and 23rd in Scout....and Thursday when 4 star Jason Croom commits, we should be in the low teens with 5 or 6 more recruits left to commit to us!

devo-evol writes:

all this bickering over recruiting rankings is ridiculous. what i want and what seems to be the most important to dooley is filling needs and going for character over stars. i will take a 3* with great character over a 5* lacking character. those are the guys that come in thinking they own the world and usually get in trouble or just don't have the work ethic and don't amount to anything. look at hunter and rodgers, hunter was lower rated but worked harder and progressed faster while rodgers was told he was better and didn't work as hard and now is behind hunter in progress.

devo-evol writes:

also more to the point, rodgers was out late at night in the knoxville bar incident when he first joined the team about this time last year. maybe hunter wasn't at home studying his playbook but he was not out bar hopping and getting in trouble and hasn't been in any trouble that i know of.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features