Da'Rick Rogers in UT doghouse but not suspended

Da'Rick Rogers in UT doghouse but not suspended

December 3rd, 2011 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

LSU's Morris Claiborne intercepts a pass meant for Tennessee's Da'Rick Rogers at Neyland Stadium in October.

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE -- There was no suspension at the end of the saga.

At different points Friday afternoon, however, it was looking that way for Tennessee receiver Da'Rick Rogers.

A source inside the UT football program told the Times Free Press that the talented sophomore was facing an "indefinite suspension" similar to the Janzen Jackson situation from last season. Rogers was not dismissed from the program and could earn his way back onto the team, the source said.

Other reports on Rogers' status that surfaced Friday varied from a dismissal to a spot in limbo off the active roster, but Volunteers coach Derek Dooley finally set it straight early Friday evening.

"Da'Rick Rogers has not been suspended and is still a part of our football team," the coach said in a statement released by the UT football program's Twitter account.

Nevertheless, there's still a spot in Dooley's doghouse for Rogers, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound star from Calhoun, Ga. A source close to Rogers told the Times Free Press that while he is not suspended, he will face some internal disciplinary measures. Both the degree and the reason for the discipline are uncertain.

With fellow sophomore receiver Justin Hunter knocked out for the season in the Vols' third game, Rogers flourished as the best player on UT's offense. He led the Southeastern Conference in receptions (67) and receiving yards (1,040) and caught nine touchdown passes. His 10 catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt briefly saved UT's hopes for a bowl berth.

Kentucky dashed those hopes and ended a 26-game losing streak to the Vols last week. The fallout from the 5-7 season began Thursday with receivers coach Charlie Baggett's decision to retire. It continued Friday as the status of one of the Vols' most talented players came into question.

For all of Rogers' physical abilities, he went through a stretch this season, when starting quarterback Tyler Bray missed five games with a broken thumb, in which he appeared visibly frustrated during games and on the sideline due to increased attention from defenses and the Vols' offensive ineptitude.

He was flagged for taunting a Middle Tennessee State defensive back after a touchdown catch in UT's homecoming win. There were practices when Rogers appeared not to go full speed, though his performance didn't suffer and Baggett said early last month that Rogers had amped up his practice performances with UT relying on him so heavily.

After he withdrew from school last February, Jackson, the Vols' talented and troubled safety, had to earn his way back onto the team. The junior stayed in Knoxville, worked part-time with UT's maintenance staff and re-enrolled in school in July. His return was short-lived, though, as Jackson ultimately was dismissed a little more than a week before the season opener.

Dooley's statement would appear to indicate that Rogers is not in the same situation. The coaching staff has been on the road visiting commitments and prospects, and the players had a regularly scheduled team meeting Friday afternoon. A set of official visitors are on campus this weekend, and the Vols are in the middle of final exams as what's certain to be a long offseason begins.

Rogers will be a part of it.