Photo by Bart Boatwright/Greenville News Clemson assistant coach Kevin Steele during the teams practice Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at the teams practice field. The Clemson linebackers coach was hired to be defensive coordinator at Tennessee Jan. 19, 2010.
KNOXVILLE -- The University of Tennessee football team still doesn't have a defensive coordinator, but whoever takes the job will have to cope without another of last season's best players.
Junior cornerback Dennis Rogan was on the NFL's list of early draft entrants, meaning his college career is finished.
Rogan, a versatile defensive back and return specialist from Knoxville, would have been a key piece for new head coach Derek Dooley's first UT defense. The 5-foot-10 Rogan could play any spot in the secondary, and he made decisive plays in several Volunteers' games the past three seasons.
Former Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin called Rogan "one of the most underrated players" in the Southeastern Conference.
UT junior tight end Luke Stocker also flirted with the draft but opted to return for a final season. He confirmed the news on his Twitter page.
"(Fiancee) Daine Karst and I are bleeding orange for another year. It's official," Stocker wrote on his page. "We couldn't leave this town, team and coach (Derek Dooley) with the opportunity to return."
Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele had an offer to return to his alma mater, but reports from South Carolina on Tuesday night indicated the former Vols linebacker and assistant coach would stay with the Tigers.
Several sources said Steele initially planned to accept an offer from Dooley, and some claimed he accepted it -- and that Steele only needed to tell his players before going public with the decision. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney feverishly tried convincing him to stay, though, and Steele told the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier on Tuesday night that he was still Clemson's defensive coordinator.
"There is no news to report," Steele told the Post and Courier, adding that he hadn't been contacted during UT's head coaching search.
Steele signed a three-year contract with Clemson last season for $375,000 annually, but the Vols reportedly offered at least $700,000 in a multiyear package. Clemson officials already planned to augment Steele's contract, but the lucrative UT offer made that an even bigger priority.
Swinney earned a large bonus by taking Clemson to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game last month, and his contract allows him to allocate that money to his staff. A source close to the Clemson program said Swinney could share the wealth with Steele "kind of like a signing bonus" to keep him with the Tigers.
Dooley, according to several sources, allowed Steele to take another day to consider UT's offer. But several reporters who cover Clemson said Tuesday night that Steele would return to the Tigers.
Longtime UT defensive line coach Dan Brooks, who wasn't retained by Lane Kiffin and moved to Clemson, reportedly claimed no interest in moving back to Knoxville.
Other contacts for Wes Rucker are www.twitter.com/wesrucker and www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.