Another Southeastern Conference standout, this time Tennessee wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers, finds himself in trouble this offseason — a disturbing trend that reinforces the notion that the college football season cannot start soon enough.
Rogers, who was named to the coaches’ All-SEC first team last month at the SEC media days, has been suspended indefinitely — perhaps for the season — because of a violation of team rules. His suspension was announced Thursday in an athletic department press release headlined, “Vols Release Depth Chart For Opener,” which came with the sub-headline that Rogers was suspended.
”When you get into the coaching profession, you quickly learn that probably the No. 1 professional hazard is the behavior of 18- to 22-year-olds,” Vols coach Derek Dooley said Thursday afternoon. ”I can assure you guys this, that there’s not one player, there’s not really one member in the whole organization that we’re not prepared to go play without.”
Dooley would not address whether Rogers would return this season.
”I don’t want to get into specifics on that,” Dooley said. ”I think the assumption is he’s not with us, and it’s very unlikely he will be.”
This is not Rogers’ first hiccup. As a freshman, he was arrested following a bar fight that left a police officer injured. He also received a two-week ban from team-related activities earlier this offseason.
Rogers was, arguably, the best wide receiver in the SEC last season. He the league with 67 receptions and also had 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns receiving.
The loss comes as a major blow to the Volunteers’ early season schedule — featuring North Carolina State and Florida in the first three contests — and could not come at a worse time for Dooley, who many consider to be fighting for his job this season. That might or might not be true, but this will not help him sleep any more soundly.
The Volunteers’ passing attack still features talented quarterback Tyler Bray, who found himself in his own sort of trouble this offseason, and stud wideouts Justin Hunter and junior-college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson. But Rogers was the most experienced of the bunch, and, depending on the length of the suspension, will be missed.
Bray noted, however, that dealing with Hunter’s injury last season could help Tennessee respond to this latest setback.
”It’s a little different circumstance, but it’s about the same thing,” Bray said. ”We have a mature group this year. We’ll be fine.”
Rogers joins some star-studded names to be suspended or dismissed from SEC teams this offseason, most notably LSU’s Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu being kicked off the Tigers. Georgia All-America safety Baccari Rambo will serve a suspension (as will other Bulldogs starters), and Associated Press SEC Freshman of the Year Isaiah Crowell transferred from Georgia to Alabama State following an arrest in June. The list goes on.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.