Georgia had WR, but Da'Rick Rogers wanted to ‘build new face’ at UT

Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel
Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers makes a catch for a touchdown against Cincinnati at Neyland Stadium on Sept. 10, 2011.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, KNS/2011

Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers makes a catch for a touchdown against Cincinnati at Neyland Stadium on Sept. 10, 2011.

Dooley on Tyler Bray: "He's playing good football"

Michael Patrick/News Sentinel
Da'Rick Rogers (21) celebrates his touchdown with teammates during the first half against Cincinnati on Sept. 10 at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2011

Michael Patrick/News Sentinel Da'Rick Rogers (21) celebrates his touchdown with teammates during the first half against Cincinnati on Sept. 10 at Neyland Stadium.

A short plane ride away from Orlando, Fla., for the Under Armour All-America game, Ja'Wuan James had just settled into his seat when he spotted Da'Rick Rogers.

The Tennessee right tackle, a Suwanee, Ga., native, was nearly two months removed from committing to the Vols. Rogers, a Calhoun, Ga., product and one of the nation's top-ranked wide receivers, was going into his sixth month as a Georgia commitment.

Well aware of this, James tried recruiting Rogers to UT anyway. He didn't get very far.

"I was like, 'Man, you need to come on and come to Tennessee,' " James recalled. "He was like, 'No, I'd never come.' "

The words "never" and "committed" go hand in hand when it pertains to college football recruiting — as in, it's never over, even when a prospect says he is committed to a particular school.

The Bulldogs learned that all too well with Rogers. The Vols, of course, have been the top benefactors from the abrupt change of heart that provided one of the biggest 2010 National Signing Day surprises.

After barely seeing the field in last year's 41-14 loss at Georgia, Rogers will have his first true crack at the Bulldogs on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m.) at Neyland Stadium.

"It's really what I've been waiting for ever since we lost the game," he said. "As soon as the clock went dead, I've been waiting to get at them next year.

"Time is here. We're going to work hard."

Rogers wasn't in the mood for personal reflection after Tuesday's practice. His answers to a flurry of questions regarding the recruiting battle between the two schools were uncharacteristically concise.

There were no hard feelings and no words that could be skewed as trash talk. He simply reiterated what he said after his signing-day press conference — the second one.

"Just being a guy that's going to start to build a new face of a program," Rogers said Tuesday. "I wanted to be a part of that. I love it here. It's been good for me."

It certainly has, especially in 2011.

Now UT's top receiving threat after Justin Hunter went down with a torn ACL, Rogers leads the SEC with six receiving touchdowns and is second in both receptions (27) and yards (442). He's Tyler Bray's new favorite target in an offense that's averaged 336.5 yards through the air in its first four games.

Meanwhile at Georgia, the Bulldogs have an All-SEC quarterback in Aaron Murray, but seem to lack a top receiving threat of Rogers' caliber now that A.J. Green is gone.

"I met him a couple times on visits, but not best friends sort of thing," Murray told reporters after Georgia's practice Tuesday. "It definitely would've been great if he had been here, he's a tremendous receiver. But he's doing great at Tennessee."

At his weekly press conference, Georgia coach Mark Richt said he wasn't surprised when Rogers called him shortly before signing day to officially decommit because "we were pretty sure that he was going to do that."

"We wanted him," Richt said. "We recruited him, we thought we had him for a while, then it changed. It happens in recruiting. It doesn't happen a lot with us historically.

"But there were some things that made him feel like Tennessee was the best place for him, so that's where he is and now we have to defend him."

It wasn't until Rogers returned from Orlando in early January 2010 when his previously subdued recruitment turned chaotic.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, then-UT coach Lane Kiffin and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron visited with Rogers and his best friend, Calhoun High quarterback Nash Nance, who was committed to Vanderbilt and didn't hold a scholarship offer from UT at the time, on Jan. 5, 2010. It was at that point when Kiffin and Orgeron — who, according to the newspaper, "bypassed the accepted protocol of informing Calhoun coach Hal Lamb they were there" — swayed Nance and Rogers to visit UT near the end of January.

Soon thereafter, Kiffin and Orgeron left for jobs at Southern California and Derek Dooley took over the program. Dooley had a little more than two weeks to shore up a recruiting class that was in shambles.

Even with a number of the team's actual commitments wavering, Dooley made a trip to Calhoun to visit with two players committed to other schools.

"That really opened our eyes," Nance said. "It was really kind of a business meeting more than it was as far as football. We understood each other as far as the coaching staff and players and we really liked what they were going to do here and we wanted to be a part of it for sure."

Both players visited UT the weekend they originally promised. James, who was already enrolled, served as Rogers' player host.

"It just clicked like that and he said he was coming," James said. "He said he loved it."

Rogers didn't commit that weekend, but the momentum was definitely in UT's favor. Nance announced his commitment Jan. 27 and promptly began his final push to bring his best friend with him.

"I told him I was going to Tennessee and I wanted him to come with me," Nance said. "We could do the things like we did in high school together in college. That was the plan and we're still sticking to it."

Though Nance remains bogged down on the depth chart, how he helped get Rogers to UT worked. The aftermath, though, was nasty.

Nance said both he and Rogers shut down all of their social media accounts during the final month leading up to signing day and didn't reopen them until a few months later.

"We made our own decisions based on ourselves and saw what the future held for us," Nance said.

Dooley said Tuesday he doesn't know what exactly sold Rogers on the Vols. He's just happy to have players on his roster like Rogers, Hunter and center James Stone, all of whom were highly touted prospects and committed to UT during Dooley's first recruiting blitz.

"It just shows you the importance of recruiting," Dooley said. "You never know who your impact players are going to be. You look back and some of them you don't get.

"Every now and then you get one."

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

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Comments » 38

Bigger_Al writes:

Marlon Brown has four catches for the Dogs in five games.

DooleyWagon22 writes:

Great article!!!

Huttdawg100 writes:

Great article.

It's pretty clear that Nance and Rogers were a package deal, but it paid off big time. Where would we be if Dooley didn't reel in Rogers? He causes so many match up problems, and when paired with Hunter, the two were uncontainable. We've got three first round draft picks on offense: Bray, D Rogers and Hunter.

I know we've got some haters that think Dooley can't recruit; your job is to hate, and that's what you do. But keep your eyes open as we move closer to february. Expect commitments from 4 star defensive linemen Danny O'Brien and Denico Autry. And that's not all folks...

seadaddy writes:

I am sure glad he picked the Vols.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Great article.

It's pretty clear that Nance and Rogers were a package deal, but it paid off big time. Where would we be if Dooley didn't reel in Rogers? He causes so many match up problems, and when paired with Hunter, the two were uncontainable. We've got three first round draft picks on offense: Bray, D Rogers and Hunter.

I know we've got some haters that think Dooley can't recruit; your job is to hate, and that's what you do. But keep your eyes open as we move closer to february. Expect commitments from 4 star defensive linemen Danny O'Brien and Denico Autry. And that's not all folks...

Sounds good ,HD..Not questioning your knowledge,but how do u know this for sure?? Please, do tell!!

Smokey says he can't wait until NSD..

Every game I become more and more impressed with DR and his abilities..He is one gifted athlete and will play on Sunday's when his college career is over.

Fryinpansvols writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Great article.

It's pretty clear that Nance and Rogers were a package deal, but it paid off big time. Where would we be if Dooley didn't reel in Rogers? He causes so many match up problems, and when paired with Hunter, the two were uncontainable. We've got three first round draft picks on offense: Bray, D Rogers and Hunter.

I know we've got some haters that think Dooley can't recruit; your job is to hate, and that's what you do. But keep your eyes open as we move closer to february. Expect commitments from 4 star defensive linemen Danny O'Brien and Denico Autry. And that's not all folks...

Amen brother!

Fryinpansvols writes:

UT=Wide Receiver U. GBO and beat the Bulldogs!

LJS1984 writes:

If I'm a top rated receiver, I would be looking hard at Tennessee. Bray took Hunter to first place in the league in receiving and now he has Rogers right there. Granted Hunter and Rogers are beasts, but there are many in high school right now just like them. If you are catching passes from Bray, you will get your stats and the NFL loves big 1,000 yard receivers. No Brainer.

VolGrad writes:

Da'Rick is more interested in teaming back up with Hunter than Nance at this point.

Glad you're bleeding orange, DR. Time for you and the WRs to step it up now.

Go Vols! Beat the Dawgs!!!

volinlouisiana writes:

in response to LJS1984:

If I'm a top rated receiver, I would be looking hard at Tennessee. Bray took Hunter to first place in the league in receiving and now he has Rogers right there. Granted Hunter and Rogers are beasts, but there are many in high school right now just like them. If you are catching passes from Bray, you will get your stats and the NFL loves big 1,000 yard receivers. No Brainer.

Jason Croom has taken note as well as Drae Bowles, Keithon Redding, and hopefully Cordarelle Patterson (we shall see)

allvol8 writes:

in response to Fryinpansvols:

Amen brother!

Awesome!

Mobbdeep4life writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Great article.

It's pretty clear that Nance and Rogers were a package deal, but it paid off big time. Where would we be if Dooley didn't reel in Rogers? He causes so many match up problems, and when paired with Hunter, the two were uncontainable. We've got three first round draft picks on offense: Bray, D Rogers and Hunter.

I know we've got some haters that think Dooley can't recruit; your job is to hate, and that's what you do. But keep your eyes open as we move closer to february. Expect commitments from 4 star defensive linemen Danny O'Brien and Denico Autry. And that's not all folks...

+1000

PdxVol writes:

Fantastic article!

BJ writes:

In Response to: Yo Mama_calls_Me_Precious: Go troll somewhere else will see what happens to Floriduh without Brantley and the rest of your schedule see a couple more beatdowns coming worry about your team TN will take care of its business. remember you have fat charlie OC and I do recall his tenure at ND was horrible. GO VOLS

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

Great article. I would like to have seen Nance play a little in some of our blow outs this year. He will most likely not see the field the rest of this month. I dont know if we will ever see him, especially with Worley on the bench to take over after Bray. But Wide Receiver U is back with Rogers, Hunter, Arnett and company.

usafvol writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bama: 38
Fla: 10

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to usafvol:

Bama: 38
Fla: 10

And after this weekend!

LSU 42
Fla 10

Bah ha ha ha ha ha!

tomnncvol writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Its interesting that you would post something so
negative in response to an article about Rogers.
I won't get into the 3-4-5-star things but I'm thinking that you must be a FL troll...

Ayres_Hall writes:

Funny. No one in the state is talking about losing Marlon Brown to UGA.

Get over it, leghumpers.

JSamson7 writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The only NFL you should be mentioning is Not For Long as in how long need to continue with your JOKEMO schtick...

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

Sounds good ,HD..Not questioning your knowledge,but how do u know this for sure?? Please, do tell!!

Smokey says he can't wait until NSD..

Every game I become more and more impressed with DR and his abilities..He is one gifted athlete and will play on Sunday's when his college career is over.

We were O'Briens first offer. We've been on him from day one. The big clue is: he was at the Michigan Vs Notre Dame night game at the big house. Michigan is supposedly our competition, but he didn't commit to them after such an impressive showing. Plus, Michigans class is pretty full.

We've led for Autry since the summer, and we have a commitment with his JUCO teammate, Damien Jacobs.

VolGrad writes:

in response to SirSpanky:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And it has been working.

8^21 = production

Go Vols!

Volunatic writes:

in response to SpongeBobOrangePantz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, Weis can't be a mall Santa. The FUPA would prevent kids from sitting on his lap.

3volfan writes:

go vols!!! completely respect mark richt, but beat them dawgs!!!

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have to give credit where credit is due. I went to the UT Vs Florida game this year, and I had a blast. The fans down there were very classy. I came away very impressed with Brantley's progression; too bad he got injured. It's not much I can say about us losing to Florida again.

That said, we're more talented than you think. Our receivers were blowing by your DBs with ease: Da'Rick Rogers, Zach Rogers, Arnett.... Hunter was going to score on the play when he got injured.... There was no one in front of him and no one to catch him. They all were leaving your guys.... Bray just never had a good snap or protection. That said, we beat UGA, and we're right back in the race for the SEC East. UGA is beatable, USCe is beatable because of weak QB play.... See you in Atlanta.... Oh, I forgot... The Gators won't be there.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

We were O'Briens first offer. We've been on him from day one. The big clue is: he was at the Michigan Vs Notre Dame night game at the big house. Michigan is supposedly our competition, but he didn't commit to them after such an impressive showing. Plus, Michigans class is pretty full.

We've led for Autry since the summer, and we have a commitment with his JUCO teammate, Damien Jacobs.

Thanks,HD!! Look forward to these other surprises you are referring to!!

Smokey looks forward to NSD..

DaleCarter18 writes:

Da'Rick, you are a beast sir! Those UGA db's cannot compete with a physical specimen of your ilk. The country will be watching Saturday night. NFL scouts will be watching Saturday night. Perform like you are capable of performing. Make us proud and will this team to victory.

GO VOLS!

cooper65#432178 writes:

in response to LJS1984:

If I'm a top rated receiver, I would be looking hard at Tennessee. Bray took Hunter to first place in the league in receiving and now he has Rogers right there. Granted Hunter and Rogers are beasts, but there are many in high school right now just like them. If you are catching passes from Bray, you will get your stats and the NFL loves big 1,000 yard receivers. No Brainer.

Bray will be a first rounder, possibly a very early first rounder. The NFL will clearly see his ability and potential for NFL stardom. His success at UT may depend on the OLine and RBs getting their act together.

flatrock writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sad. Very sad.

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

I know there has been a lot of talk about our running game, but I honestly believe that we can pass 40 times and beat Georgia handily. Our receivers were clearly outrunning and outmaneuvering the Florida DBs, and Georgia's DBs are bigger and slower than Florida's. Our receivers are a huge mismatch for them, and DaRick in particular should be considered a scoring threat on every play. Plus, our o-line is excellent at pass protection, and our defense is good enough to get a few turnovers out of Murray.

If we unleash Bray on them, I think that he can throw 5 or 6 TDs, even if he ends up with a couple of INTs. Just unleash him, and we will overpower Georgia.

Thoughts?

navarrebeachvol writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

I have to give credit where credit is due. I went to the UT Vs Florida game this year, and I had a blast. The fans down there were very classy. I came away very impressed with Brantley's progression; too bad he got injured. It's not much I can say about us losing to Florida again.

That said, we're more talented than you think. Our receivers were blowing by your DBs with ease: Da'Rick Rogers, Zach Rogers, Arnett.... Hunter was going to score on the play when he got injured.... There was no one in front of him and no one to catch him. They all were leaving your guys.... Bray just never had a good snap or protection. That said, we beat UGA, and we're right back in the race for the SEC East. UGA is beatable, USCe is beatable because of weak QB play.... See you in Atlanta.... Oh, I forgot... The Gators won't be there.

I’m glad you had a pleasant fan experience even though the Vols lost. But the blanket statement about classy fans is ridiculous. Just like you see with the nasty Florida trolls on here, they have plenty of nasty ones down there-especially when it comes to UT and FSU visiting. There is a reason why they have deputies and state troopers at EVERY section of the stadium…and they don’t watch the game, they have their backs to the field as they survey the stands for miscreants. My wife will never attend another game there after what was said to her by the packs of Gator thugs…of course, just like on here, they only run their disgusting choppers when they are anonymous or have a 10-1 advantage. And I’m not talking about tired old no-teeth jokes, general trash talking, or “friendly” taunts; I’m talking about nasty, vile comments to women that would get their scaly tale handed to them if they didn’t have you out numbered. Then there’s the throwing of bags of urine on Tennessee fans. Yea, real classy stuff. There are jerks and miscreants at all stadiums, Florida just has a higher percentage. Just as you see here on rare occasion, some of the Florida fans are ok, but they should be the one denouncing the behavior of the minority. Sorry for the long post.

OrangeCounsel writes:

in response to navarrebeachvol:

I’m glad you had a pleasant fan experience even though the Vols lost. But the blanket statement about classy fans is ridiculous. Just like you see with the nasty Florida trolls on here, they have plenty of nasty ones down there-especially when it comes to UT and FSU visiting. There is a reason why they have deputies and state troopers at EVERY section of the stadium…and they don’t watch the game, they have their backs to the field as they survey the stands for miscreants. My wife will never attend another game there after what was said to her by the packs of Gator thugs…of course, just like on here, they only run their disgusting choppers when they are anonymous or have a 10-1 advantage. And I’m not talking about tired old no-teeth jokes, general trash talking, or “friendly” taunts; I’m talking about nasty, vile comments to women that would get their scaly tale handed to them if they didn’t have you out numbered. Then there’s the throwing of bags of urine on Tennessee fans. Yea, real classy stuff. There are jerks and miscreants at all stadiums, Florida just has a higher percentage. Just as you see here on rare occasion, some of the Florida fans are ok, but they should be the one denouncing the behavior of the minority. Sorry for the long post.

Right there with you NBV. Try heading into that dung pile with a UT band uniform on. Georgia fans are easily the most obnoxious (seriously, you're a grown man and you're barking at me? really?), and LSU fans are easily the biggest drunks, but Florida carries the day for making you seriously believe you're going to have to fight your way out. I'm all for rivalries; trash talk is loads of fun. But its fun when it's about the football, not when you try to turn it into a bar fight. Your wife is right about staying out of Gainesville. I'd hate to see UT go down there without fan support, but I hate to think our support goes monetarily to that cultural wasteland.

ollias#273315 writes:

There are no SEC fans or coaches that are as CLASSLESS as Gator fans and coaches. Must be something in the air or water that contributes to this attitude. Their winning days are over and this will result in even worse behavior. I know, I live in Florida.

VOLliven2it writes:

I am just glad we have DaRick and believe he will be a difference Sat. The key is take care of the ball and do not do stupid (un)special teams things. We can win even though our defense is still developing. I just hope we do it. My neighbors will have a field day if not.

ACWLY writes:

Rogers and James, the kind of kids Tennessee football is all about! THANK YOU BOTH from ALL real UT fans across the Nation.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to navarrebeachvol:

I’m glad you had a pleasant fan experience even though the Vols lost. But the blanket statement about classy fans is ridiculous. Just like you see with the nasty Florida trolls on here, they have plenty of nasty ones down there-especially when it comes to UT and FSU visiting. There is a reason why they have deputies and state troopers at EVERY section of the stadium…and they don’t watch the game, they have their backs to the field as they survey the stands for miscreants. My wife will never attend another game there after what was said to her by the packs of Gator thugs…of course, just like on here, they only run their disgusting choppers when they are anonymous or have a 10-1 advantage. And I’m not talking about tired old no-teeth jokes, general trash talking, or “friendly” taunts; I’m talking about nasty, vile comments to women that would get their scaly tale handed to them if they didn’t have you out numbered. Then there’s the throwing of bags of urine on Tennessee fans. Yea, real classy stuff. There are jerks and miscreants at all stadiums, Florida just has a higher percentage. Just as you see here on rare occasion, some of the Florida fans are ok, but they should be the one denouncing the behavior of the minority. Sorry for the long post.

Yeah... I think I was just lucky.

transplantiam writes:

To Huttdawg100 and navarrebeachvol. I read an article the other day that said that the Gainsville PD averages like 90 arrests at each Gator home game. Now I'm sure some of these are out-of-towners, but most are the locals. Most of the arrests were for public intoxication, d&d conduct, and the best, urinating in public! Now I'm sure that others schools have many arrests also, but I happened to run upon that article and thought that record probably contributes greatly to out-of towner feelings toward going to Fl for a football game.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe you should troll the LSU site to get ready for the Gators next beat down. Will Muschamp take a knee in this game like he did in the Bama game

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