Rogers growing and maturing at UT

Rogers growing and maturing at UT

Coming out of high school as the NO. 1 player out of Georgia, Da'Rick Rogers was use to a lot of attention that came with being the top man on campus. Rogers found out quickly that wasn't going to be easy at the college level. Go "Inside" to see how the talented athlete has adjusted to not being the No. 1 go to guy.

It wasn't that long ago that Da' Rick Rogers was the "other" young Tennessee receiver. He didn't take to that role too kindly.

Justin Hunter's ascension this season was great for fans. Not so great for fellow freshman, Rogers, who was even higher rated coming out of high school yet wasn't having the same impact.

Rogers knew it would be hard to make the transition to college, but when Hunter had a better preseason camp and surpassed Rogers as the Vols top freshman receiver, well, that was a little hard to take.

"It definitely tested my patience," Rogers said. "Justin [Hunter] had a great camp and that kid is electrifying. He goes up and gets the ball. He snatches it out of the air. So you have to respect that.

"It takes a little bit to get used to it because in high school you are used to being the man right from the get go. Now you have other great players that you have to work into a system and have to work on getting everybody the ball."

Rogers has now put himself in that position. Last week, he caught a 22-yard pass for a touchdown against Memphis. Moreover, he's become UT's go-to guy whenever they feel the need for an end around.

"You can never get sick of touching the ball," Rogers said of the misdirection play. "It's the same play, but it seems to work so I'm gonna keep running it."

Yet the end around underscores Rogers' weakness – route running. Rogers admitted that he's still learning how to run productive patterns and read defensive coverages.

"Really just be a student of the game," Rogers said when asked how he can improve. "Getting in and watching film, looking at what you are doing and how it's supposed to be done. We watch film on (Tennessee Titans receiver) Randy Moss of course. We watch Indianapolis Colts film, (Colts receiver) Reggie Wayne and all those people. Really you just have to be a student of the game."

The current shortcomings, however, don't undermine Rogers' natural gifts.

"I'm real physical, fast, big speed," he said. "That's my main thing."

The transition from old to new in UT's receiving corps is obvious. Seniors Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones are closing out their careers. Rogers and Hunter are the future.

"Gerald and Denarius are like my big brothers," Rogers said. "We hang out with them. Over the summer they were teaching us the playbook. They have really been a big help for us.

But does that mean UT's youngsters view the older receivers' achievements as unattainable?

"We've been telling them that we are going to break all of their records," Rogers said with a smile. "Everything you've got, we plan on breaking them."

Either old or young, there's certainly a sense that UT has plenty of talent at wideout.

"I do feel like the sky's the limit," Rogers said. "I feel like we have a lot of young talent. We just need one more good recruiting class to build on. I feel like we have a great freshman quarterback. I feel like we have a lot of talent to build on."

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