Da'Rick Rogers on his absence last week and rumors of transferring
The communication outside the program was apparently misinterpreted, so Da’Rick Rogers is going to work on his social media skills.
Inside the walls of the Tennessee locker room, the junior wide receiver and the rest of the Vols seem to understand each other perfectly.
In his first public comments since missing a practice last Thursday and launching speculation that he intended to transfer, Rogers shot down suggestions that he would leave after two seasons with UT and repeatedly stressed that there are no lingering problems for him after a workout Monday morning.
“Oh man, no controversy,” Rogers said. “Just had some little things to handle off the field, got those handled and now we’re looking forward to becoming a championship-contending team. ... If I was a distraction, I really wasn’t trying to be a distraction. It was a situation that we got handled, and everything is good now.
“No transfer for me, no consideration. Maybe I need to do a little better job with my tweets, letting everybody know what’s really actually going on so next time it won’t be misinterpreted.”
The confusion and uncertainty that swirled around Rogers disappeared almost as quickly as they arrived, with the first-team All-SEC performer returning to the field on Saturday after just the one absence and a few public comments on Twitter and to a Georgia State recruiting site that hinted strongly that he was prepared to leave the Vols.
As UT coach Derek Dooley did last week when pressed about the situation, Rogers also declined to provide any specifics about the matters he needed to deal with other than they were “personal” and “not necessarily program issues.”
But both made clear they were ready to turn the page and get back to work building what could be an explosive passing attack, particularly with Rogers again showing off his impressive athleticism with a leaping, one-handed grab almost as soon as practice officially started. And his presence should provide a nice boost to fellow wideout Justin Hunter and quarterback Tyler Bray, two players Rogers singled out as invaluable sounding boards for him during his tumultuous 48-hour stretch late last week.
“He just needed to calm down,” Hunter said. “We were there for him, talking to him and telling him everything is going to be all right and we’d be there for him whatever he wanted to do. ... The talk that we had put him at 110 percent. He doesn’t have any more distractions; he’s a hard worker and he’s ready to work.
“I definitely felt it when he wasn’t there. I was tired, I was beat, getting double-teamed and all that. When he came back, I was real excited and happy — and got to get some rest sometimes on the side.”
The breather for Rogers forced just about everybody involved with the program to answer questions about him, but it put a particular strain on a receiving corps low on depth this spring.
With Hunter still not cleared for full-contact work yet and only two other targets with any experience currently on the roster, not having Rogers on hand left plenty of reps to go around and a long-term absence would have left a sizable hole in terms of production.
But he’s now been back for the last two workouts, and his return was accompanied by an apology to his teammates for the circus surrounding the one before that.
“Honestly I just think the conversations we had were more with the whole team and me moving forward with everything, getting back right with everything.” Rogers said. “I feel like it was a very good meeting we had. I think the whole team, we’ve all come together and I think this year is going to be the year. The chemistry on this team is great, and honestly I think this might be the year.
“Sometimes you just come to a point in your life where you have to be strong about things. I had a little weak moment, and that’s gone behind me and behind the team now. We’re ready to go.”
Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward