Dennis Rogan has an abundance of athleticism, which is why the talented freshman will be the top reserve at cornerback when the Vols host Louisiana-Lafayette in today's Homecoming Game at 4 p.m.
Rogan spent the first two months of the season working at safety, the position he played at Knoxville's Fulton High School the previous three years. Now that first-team cornerback Marsalous Johnson is out for the year with a knee injury, however, Rogan was moved to bolster the depth at corner. Tennessee's defensive coordinator likes what he has seen so far.
“He’s a playmaker,” John Chavis said. “He’s got a tremendous amount of athletic ability. The knowledge is not there and the experience is not there but, athletically, he can play corner or safety. He’s that kind of athlete.”
Secondary coach Larry Slade agrees, even though the 5-10, 182-pound Rogan is a tad small for a safety.
“His size was never a problem,” Slade said. “He’s a tough kid. He’s a very athletic kid, very strong. Heck, Dennis would be an outstanding safety in this scheme.”
Rogan should be an even better corner in Tennessee's scheme, however. Freed from the mental demands of safety, he can cut loose and rely more on his athleticism at the new outpost.
“It’s a little bit easier to play corner,” Slade said. “There are fewer adjustments. You’re more directed by the safeties.”
Rogan's switch to corner has gone so smoothly that his position coach said he's “like a fish IN water. You throw him out there and ... Man! I told him the other day, ‘When you were a safety I was constantly making corrections. As a corner I’ve had to make very few.’”
Chavis thought Rogan had a very bright future at safety. Once Johnson's injury proved to be season-ending, however, Rogan was the obvious choice to fill the void.
“Dennis is a guy that’s talented enough to play corner,” Chavis said. “We were really getting him ready to play safety. Now, with the (Johnson) injury, we’ve moved him back to corner. He WILL be our third corner.”
Rogan could be a busy man this afternoon. In addition to backup duty at cornerback, he will be returning punts and kickoffs. He is slowly emerging as one of the better players in a star-studded freshman class.
“Dennis Rogan has done an exceptional job,” head coach Phillip Fulmer said. “He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities in games but I think he’s a really good young prospect.”