The last time Da’Rick Rogers caught passes from Tyler Bray inside Tennessee’s indoor facility was seven months ago.
Rogers was part of a trio of talented receivers that then-coach Derek Dooley hoped would help the offense lead the Vols back to the win column.
Instead, Rogers was suspended just days before the 2012 season for what he said were failed drug tests.
Tennessee’s prolific offense couldn’t salvage a winning season, but the two receivers who remained — Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson — are now potential first-round picks.
On Wednesday, Rogers returned to Knoxville for UT’s annual pro day with an outlook far less certain than his former teammates. He put up huge numbers at Tennessee Tech after transferring last August, but blowing by slow cornerbacks at a lower division didn’t help his draft stock like another year in the SEC might have.
“It was a wake-up call. I had to go to Tennessee Tech and I was humbled,” said Rogers, who has spoken openly about his mistakes during the draft process. “I had to look in the mirror. There was a lot of maturing I had to do.”
Despite his missteps, some draft projections say he might still go in the first three rounds.
Rogers is working out with Cordarrelle Patterson and the two have become good friends. Rogers also said that UT still means a lot to him and he wants to “rebuild the connection” to his old school.
“There are a lot of great coaches here and a lot of great kids here also,” Rogers said. “I really wanted to get out here just to show the guys that I have changed.”
Although Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers was the only NFL coach in attendance, every team was represented in some capacity.
New York Jets general manager John Idzik, Jr., and Cleveland Browns receivers coach Scott Turner, son of veteran coach and Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner, were also there.
Another notable spectator? Tennessee men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin.
UT senior defensive back Eric Gordon, who coach Butch Jones said is away from the team while dealing with personal issues, was on hand to support former teammates Wednesday.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.