Transfer rumors swirled around Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers in late March, but the rising junior made up with head coach Derek Dooley. Since then, all was quiet on the Rogers front.
Tennessee has announced that Rogers has been suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules. According to Evan Woodbery of the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel, Dooley doesn't expect Rogers to play for the Vols this season.
Dooley said he doesn't expect Rogers will play for Vols this season.— Evan Woodbery (@TennesseeBeat) August 23, 2012
Joe Schad of ESPN.com says that the suspension is due to a violation of the school's substance abuse policy.
Former UT WR Da'Rick Rogers violated the school's substance abuse policy per source— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 23, 2012
Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com reported that it was a surprise that Rogers was even on the team to begin with.
After what I'd been told by sources inside Vols program last yr, was surprised Dooley allowed Da'Rick Rogers to stay w team.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) August 23, 2012
Feldman explained some of those issues from last season.
In 2011 Da'Rick Rogers had a series of incidents, incldg a complete meltdown at UK gm that sources say COMPLETELY crossed line w UT staff.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) August 23, 2012
To say that Rogers' absence is a huge loss for the Vols would be an understatement.
The Calhoun, Ga. native led the SEC with 67 receptions last season, and finished second in the conference with 1,040 yards and nine touchdown receptions.
That included five games without star quarterback Tyler Bray, who missed part of the season after hitting his hand on an opponent's helmet and breaking his thumb.
Justin Hunter—who is probably Tennessee's best receiver—is listed as one of the starters on Tennessee's new depth chart, alongside junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson. Hunter missed most of last season after tearing his ACL in Week 3 vs. Florida, but he had 17 catches for 314 yards and two touchdowns before the injury.
While Hunter and Patterson are both fully capable of shouldering the load in Rogers' absence, it's still a big loss for the Vols.
With Rogers in the lineup, the Vols had the best wide receiving corps east of USC. Without him, it's loaded with question marks. Hunter has star potential written all over him, but he has to prove it after the injury. The 6'3", 205-pound Patterson does too, but he hasn't played a down yet.
Going up against David Amerson, Earl Wolff, Brandan Bishop and that stout N.C. State secondary in Week 1 was going to be a tall order even if Rogers was playing.
Without him? Yikes.
With games against N.C. State, Florida and Georgia in the first five weeks of the season, it's imperative for the Vols to get off to a good start.
With Rogers not in the mix, that's not likely.