Da’Rick Rogers arrived on the Tennessee campus prior to the 2010 season with big expectations preceding him.
Rogers was rated the No. 2 wide receiver in the country and was Tennessee’s only 5-star recruit, according to Rivals.com.
As is the case with most freshmen wide receivers, Rogers struggled in year one. The 6'3" receiver caught just 11 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Receivers Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore, along with tight end Luke Stocker took the pressure off Rogers and didn’t require him to make an immediate impact.
However, Jones, Moore and Stocker were gone after 2010 and the receiving game burden fell squarely on the shoulders of Rogers and teammate Justin Hunter.
The duo tore up the first two opponents on the Vols schedule, Montana and Cincinnati. Both players hit the century mark in yards and scored in each game.
In Gainesville, the script was flipped upside down as Hunter’s season came to a crashing halt with a torn ACL on the opening offensive series. At that point, Rogers was forced to fly solo for the remainder of the season.
Facing constant double-teams and being the focal point of every opposing secondary, Rogers continued to put up strong numbers. He finished the season with 1,040 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, becoming just the sixth player in Tennessee history to hit the 1000-yard milestone.
Rogers big season earned him postseason honors, as he was named to the coaches All-SEC Second Team (UT Sports).
Who will lead the Vols in receiving yards in 2012?
No one questions Rogers’ talent. He is arguably one of the top wide receivers in the country. The only questions that remain are about Rogers mentally.
Soon after the 2011 season ended, questions surfaced about Rogers’ status with the team. It eventually led to this quote, via Go Vols Xtra:
"Da'Rick Rogers has not been suspended," UT coach Derek Dooley said in a statement. "(He) is still a part of our football team."
Rogers remained in limbo through the start of spring practice. Rumors even surfaced of him potentially transferring to Georgia State, who the Vols play in Week 2 this fall (Go Vols Xtra).
Eventually, everything was settled between Rogers and Dooley and the star receiver was back practicing with the team. He seemed to be in good standing when the spring ended and in position to make noise in 2012.
If everything is settled and Rogers keeps his head on straight this upcoming fall, it could be a banner year for the receiver. With Justin Hunter reportedly back at 100 percent, Rogers likely won’t see constant double-teams, which will only make him more dangerous.
The Vols offense has a chance to be special in 2012, and Da’Rick Rogers is a major reason for that. However, he has to keep his head on straight in order for that to happen.
Only time will tell if he’s capable of keeping everything in check.