Da'Rick Rogers officially has left Tennessee's football team, just not the state's borders.
The former all-Southeastern Conference wide receiver has transferred to Football Championship Subdivision program Tennessee Tech, the school confirmed Monday afternoon. The move was announced four days after Tennessee indefinitely suspended Rogers for a violation of team rules.
''It'll be exciting,'' Rogers said in a school release announcing the move. ''I'm excited to be here and be with the team and have brand new camaraderie with these guys. It'll be fun to watch us play.''
Because Tennessee Tech is an FCS school, Rogers can transfer there without sitting out a year of competition. Tennessee Tech opens its season Thursday against Hampton.
The move reunites Rogers with former Calhoun (Ga.) High School teammate Tre Lamb, the starting quarterback for Tennessee Tech. Lamb's father, Hal Lamb, coached Rogers at Calhoun and apparently spoke up on the receiver's behalf to Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown.
''It's a unique situation for me, but we know he's a good kid,'' Brown said. ''He knows a couple of the players on our team, and we know his high school coach, and we're going on their recommendations.''
Rogers caught 67 passes for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns last year to earn all-SEC honors, but he also had caused a few headaches for Tennessee's coaching staff even before getting suspended last week.
Enough reports surfaced about Rogers' tenuous status on the team late last season that Tennessee coach Derek Dooley released a statement indicating the star receiver hadn't been suspended or dismissed. When Rogers sat out a practice this spring, it led to rumors that he was considering a transfer.
Brown, a former Football Bowl Subdivision head coach at Vanderbilt and UAB, believes Rogers can make the most of a second chance.
''We've met with Da'Rick, and he understands our expectations,'' Brown said.
Tennessee Tech's offense should give Rogers plenty of opportunities. The Golden Eagles set school records in scoring (355) and yards per game (410.5) last season while going 7-4 and reaching the FCS playoffs for the first time. Rogers will try to replace Tim Benford, who ended his college career last season with 216 catches for 3,097 yards and 27 touchdowns to break or tie school records in each of those three categories.
Although he's switching teams less than a week before the start of the season, Rogers will find at least a couple of familiar faces at his new school. He already has familiarity with Lamb, who threw for 2,342 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. Rogers also played at Calhoun High with Tennessee Tech running back Adam Urbano.
''I see it as a new beginning,'' Rogers said. ''All the coaches and players have been welcoming. The athletic director (Mark Wilson) has been nice. Everybody has welcomed me with open arms, and that's been a big thing. It seems to be like a family.''