Posted by Jerry Hinnen
UPDATE, 7:30 p.m. ET: Despite mutliple reports across various outlets corroborating the initial news that Da'Rick Rogers was facing some degree of roster exile, Derek Dooley refuted them Friday afteroon.
"Da'Rick Rogers has not been suspended and is still a part of our football team," Dooley said through a statement.
This may be true. But frankly, the degree and strength of the reports from Friday afternoon -- see below -- suggest that if Rogers isn't suspended, isn't off the roster, it doesn't mean he's necessarily in the clear. Dooley may not like using the word "suspension" and definitely won't appreciate the leak in the wake of Vanderbilt-gate, but we're not convinced Rogers isn't in some kind of hot water.
So take the below with a grain of salt. But take Dooley's denials with the same.
The news for Derek Dooley and Tennessee seems to just keep getting worse.
GVX247.com's Wes Rucker has reported that leading wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers is not a current part of the Vols' active roster, throwing his status for the 2012 season in doubt. Rogers has the opportunity to earn his way back onto the team, according to the report, but for now has been effectively suspended.
We say "effectively" since Rucker's sources -- and others' -- are avoiding calling it a suspension, comparing the situation to that of now-former Vol safety Janzen Jackson. Jackson left the team in the 2010-2011 offseason to work on "personal issues" before eventually returning to school in July ... and being dismissed in August.
Per the Knoxville News-Sentinel, the reasons for Dooley's decision are not public knowledge at this time.
Vol fans will no doubt be hoping for a much happier ending where Rogers is concerned than they got with Jackson. Though his numbers may have benefitted from the absence of fellow receiving stud Justin Hunter for all but three games, they were most certainly not helped by the five games missed by starting quarterback Tyler Bray--and Rogers still led the SEC in receptions (67) and yards (1,040) while ranking second second in receiving scores with 9. Subjectively, the former five-star recruit gave the Vols a physical, clutch presence in the aerial game that at times was the only positive thing the often-toothless Tennessee attack had going for it in 2011.
In short: his departure would be yet another major blow to a reeling program that simply can't absorb many more like it and get back to where its fans (and administrators) expect it to be. Rogers isn't a goner just yet, fortunately, but until he returns we won't blame anyone in Knoxville for fearing the worst ... especially after the year the Vols just endured.