KNOXVILLE - The release of the depth chart hardly was the biggest news of Thursday morning for the Tennessee football program.
While the Volunteers were on the practice field Thursday morning, the program announced the indefinite suspension of receiver Da'Rick Rogers. According to Tennessee's release, the junior wideout was suspended for a "violation of team rules," and coach Derek Dooley indicated a return is "very unlikely."
"There were recent events, yes, that led the ultimate decision," Dooley said. "Our expectation is he's not [coming back]. Certainly there's a process that we always respect, but our expectation is he's not."
Losing Rogers would be a severe blow to a Tennessee offense entering the season with the potential to be explosive. Despite catching passes from three different quarterbacks, Rogers finished 2011 with 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the SEC in receptions and finished second in yards and was named a first-team All-SEC selection.
Yet Rogers has been the subject of controversies this offseason, both true and rumored. He faced some internal discipline during the winter workouts, missed a day of spring practice amid speculation he was transferring to Georgia State and was arrested before the first practice of his career in connection with the infamous Bar Knoxville brawl, though he faced no charges. Following a quiet summer where he focused on his academics and worked his way into the best shape of his career, Rogers missed a day of training camp earlier this month to attend class.
Dooley said he contacted Rogers Wednesday, and the coach declined to get into anything regarding Rogers working for a return.
"I don't want to get into specifics on that," Dooley said. "The assumption is he's not with us, and it's very unlikely he will be."
The Vols got the news before Thursday morning's practice. Dooley said his players "were fine" and responded with a "real good" practice. Tennessee plays North Carolina State in its opener in eight days.
"This is the not first incident of disruption, so to speak," Dooley said. "I don't think there was the alarm. But they were fine. They went out there like professionals. I'm more concerned about the adversity that's going to happen in a game. These guys are resilient."
More details as they develop online, and a full recap in Friday's Times Free Press.
TENNESSEE'S TWO-DEEP DEPTH CHART
TE Mychal Rivera
LT Antonio Richardson
LG Dallas Thomas
C James Stone
RG Zach Fulton
RT Ja'Wuan James
WR Justin Hunter
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
QB Tyler Bray
TB Rajion Neal
FB Ben Bartholomew
JACK Jacques Smith
DE Darrington Sentimore
NT Daniel McCullers
DE Maurice Couch
SLB Curt Maggitt
MLB A.J. Johnson
WLB Herman Lathers
CB Justin Coleman OR Marsalis Teague
CB Prentiss Waggner
S Brian Randolph
S Byron Moore OR Brent Brewer
P Matt Darr OR Michael Palardy
PK/KOS Michael Palardy
DS J.R. Carr
H Matt Darr OR Justin Worley
PR Devrin Young
KR Devrin Young AND Cordarrelle Patterson
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...