In less than four months, Tennessee’s has lost its best defensive player (Janzen Jackson) to a dismissal, its best receiver (Justin Hunter) to a season-ending injury and its starting quarterback (Tyler Bray) for several games with a broken thumb. Unbelievably, the long-term status of yet another prominent member of the Vols is now very much up in the air as well.
While initial reports had Da’Rick Rogers dismissed from the football program entirely, it’s subsequently been confirmed by the Knoxville News Sentinel that the wide receiver is technically not a part of the team but is not officially suspended either. Wes Rucker of govols247.com writes that Rogers could work his way back onto the team, although it’s unclear what led to the issue in the first place.
Head coach Derek Dooley confirmed to the News Sentinel that a meeting took place with Rogers today, but would not get into the reasons behind it.
Thanks to Hunter’s injury three games into the 2011 season, Rogers ended up leading the Vols in receptions (67), receiving yards (1,040) and receiving touchdowns (nine). Rogers was a five-star member of Dooley’s first UT recruiting class in 2010, with Rivals.com rating the Georgia high school product as the No. 2 receiver in the country and the No. 1 player in his state. He had originally verbally committed to Georgia, but was a late flip to the Vols.
The issues surrounding Rogers will have no impact on the field this year as the Vols, at 5-7, are ineligible for a bowl.
UPDATED 5:53 p.m. ET: Dooley has released a statement addressing the Rogers situation. Here it is, for what it’s worth.
“Da’Rick Rogers has not been suspended and is still a part of our football team.”
Rucker notes in a tweet that, despite Dooley’s statement, “he’s definitely in trouble, though.”