The Tennessee Volunteers have more talent returning this year than they have had since 2007. It is clear UT will not be short on potential in 2011, as they return many key contributors from the previous year.
The Vols return four starters on the offensive line, six players on defense (hopefully, including Janzen Jackson,) quarterback Tyler Bray, 1,000 yard rusher Tauren Poole, Da’Rick Rogers and track star Justin Hunter at wide receiver.
If you were to ask which name sticks out the most to any Tennessee fan, you would probably get a few votes for Tauren Poole, Tyler Bray or Justin Hunter.
But my vote goes, without a doubt, to wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers.
If you recall, Rogers was a high school phenom. He broke records left and right, leaving them as shattered as the opposing team’s defense. Rogers was a five-star recruit for many reasons, the first being his frame.
Rogers is only a sophomore, yet he is built like an NFL veteran. Standing at 6'2" and 215 pounds, he already has an edge on some SEC cornerbacks. He has the physical presence and the hands to do great things.
However Rogers’ versatility is his best feature.
He can do anything you would want a wide receiver to do.
Tell him to run a streak to the end zone? He has that covered. Ask him to rush the ball on an end-around the next play? He’ll pick up 10 or 15 yards. Ask him to block for the running back the next play? He has the strength to do that with ease. The kicker just went down with a pulled hamstring? Somebody find Da’Rick.
After watching some of the film from this spring, it was obvious to me that Rogers was the MVP of this spring. His route running, which is possibly the most underrated ability in college football today, is much improved. Rogers’ routes are crisper than any other receiver Tennessee has—at least for the moment.
I believe 2011 is Da’Rick’s year to shine. I see him coming out with a chip on his shoulder and tearing through opposing defenses. I think he will have a 1,000-yard receiving season and will be UT’s playmaker.
He has the tools to be a Tennessee great and if Derek Dooley can use those tools to his advantage, he will have no trouble shattering UT receiving records much like he did at Calhoun High School.