published Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Calhoun's Rogers eager to be a leader

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    Staff Photo by Patrick Smith
    Calhoun High School wide receiver DaRick Rogers is a 2009 Times Free Press Dynamite Dozen selection. Photo taken July 19, 2009.

CALHOUN, Ga. -- On the day Da'Rick Rogers announced his commitment to play football for the University of Georgia, he called himself a "knucklehead."

That was the 6-foot-4 Calhoun receiver's way of saying he knew he needed to mature as a person. Though that maturation is important for Rogers' future, Calhoun coach Hal Lamb says it also could mean much for the Yellow Jackets this season.

"I expect Da'Rick to have a good year," Lamb said. "He's a very good athlete and he's come a long way attitude wise. He's got a very, very bright future if he keeps his head on straight.

"What we want from him this year is to become more of a leader. He's a senior and we've got some young kids who look up to him. Hopefully he will take that role and run with it."

Rogers recently was listed by ESPN as the sixth best receiver prospect in the country.

Opposing defenses often were forced to play him with single coverage a year ago due to the presence of all-star receiver Derek Ramsey and Rhett McGowan, who graduated after combining for more than 1,500 yards. Unless young receivers such as J.T. Palmer show their promising talent quickly, Rogers will face almost constant double-teams.

Lamb has to be pleased with Rogers' reaction to the added on-field attention and to his focus on being a leader.

"I'll just take the double-team and run it off, and we can just throw it the other way," said Rogers, who insists he's "100 percent committed" to Georgia.

"It won't bother me at all -- that's what we work hard for. I was real close to all those seniors, so I know the qualities those guys had. I want to do what they did: Speak up, be a leader, work out right and do the things you're supposed to do."

Don't get the idea Rogers will be a decoy. Lamb and strong-armed quarterback Nash Nance plan to stretch defenses early and often. With 4.4 speed in the 40-yad dash, a vertical jump nearing 40 inches and long arms, Rogers still will be weapon No. 1 in the Jackets' impressive arsenal.

"He'll be double-teamed and triple-teamed, but we feel we have enough weapons on the other side who will help us take that away from them," Lamb said. "We feel good about getting the ball to Da'Rick. He'll get his touches. We'd be a dumb coaching staff if he didn't."

With the recruiting process behind him, Rogers has one goal for the season.

"It was a big thing for me to get recruiting out of the way so I can focus on this senior season and try to win a state championship," he said. "That's my main focus."

about Lindsey Young...

Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...

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