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Report: UT WR Rogers Suspended Indefinitely

Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers has been indefinitely suspended from the Volunteer football team according to Volquest.com — the Rivals’ site covering Tennessee (paywall warning).  Derek Dooley is expected to address Rogers’ latest issue after today’s practice in Knoxville.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Vol fans as the media in Tennessee have repeatedly tried to prepare them for the possibility of a suspension or dismissal coming at some point for Rogers or quarterback Tyler Bray or both for their off-field actions.

The junior wideout is best known for being arrested in a bar fight as a freshman, for allegedly tossing a weight at a strength coach, for barking at since-retired receivers coach Charlie Baggett during UT’s loss to Kentucky last year, for being removed but not tecnhically “suspended” from the team at various points this offseason, and for suggesting via Twitter this past spring that he would be transferring to Georgia State.

Oh, and for leading Tennessee in receiving last year when fellow wideout Justin Hunter went down to injury.  Last season he recorded 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.

Dooley has been slow to hand down any official discipline or suspension to Rogers despite all of his previous antics.  No doubt two factors have played a role in that: Dooley’s own job security and Rogers’ talent… when the player’s head is screwed on straight.

Now it seems that Rogers has finally done something to force Dooley to officially push him away from his squad for a while.  Here’s betting we won’t find out what it was Rogers did when Dooley addresses the media this afternoon.  For that matter, it will be interesting to see if Dooley terms the situation a “suspension” at all or if he just says Rogers is attending to “personal issues,” which the coach is wont to do.

There were rumors two weeks ago that Rogers was in hot water once again and that a suspension could be coming.  It didn’t.  But it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Dooley wanted to gauge the talents of juco receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and the recovery of Hunter before pulling the trigger on a sit-down for Rogers.

UT opens against North Carolina State in the Georgia Dome next Friday.

 

UPDATE — The University of Tennessee has officially announced that Rogers has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.  This would seem to suggest that this is a UT decision and not a Dooley decision.

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WR Rogers’ Tweets Raise Questions About His Status UT

Tennessee receiver Da’rick Rogers — an All-SEC selection last year — is in the news again.  And that’s got Vol fans worried.

First, some background.  Rogers was initially committed to Georgia until Derek Dooley — who’d just taken over at Tennessee — flipped his commitment late in the process in 2010 by signing a package deal with Rogers’ high school quarterback buddy and Vanderbilt target Nash Nance.

By July of that year, Rogers had been arrested for his role in a bar brawl involving a number of Tennessee teammates.  Since then, his attitude has come into question repeatedly.

Reporters saw him yelling at former UT receivers coach Charlie Baggett on the sideline of the Vols’ loss to Kentucky last fall.  Shortly after that game, Baggett retired (but was paid a severance package as though he’d been dismissed).

This offseason Rogers missed two weeks of workouts with Tennessee’s training staff.  It was reported at the time that he had had multiple altercations with the Vols’ strength and conditioning coaches.

During a pre-spring press conference on Sunday, Dooley said that Rogers had had a good offseason but he refused to discuss his suspension from workouts.  “He’s like the rest of the team.  He’s shown a lot of progress, he grew as a player emotionally, but he has a long way to go.”

The mercurial wideout was on the practice fields Monday and Tuesday of this week.

But Volquest.com — the Rivals site covering Tennessee — reported that Rogers was not expected to be at practice today.  InsideTennessee.com — the Scout site covering the Vols — confirmed that he is not on hand.  (That’s all behind paywalls, folks.)

All this follows two mysterious tweets from Rogers last night:


“Georgia State.  Wasup?”

And…

“I cannot wait to talk to the media tomorrow.  It finally comes out.”

Dooley is expected to address Rogers’ status with the Volunteer squad this morning after UT’s practice.  Until then, Vol fans must once again wonder if the player who had 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns last season will indeed be wearing orange this fall.

Tennessee’s coach can’t afford another season of internal chemistry issues on his football team.  But with his job likely on the line this fall, Dooley might not be able to afford the loss of one of his most talented players, either.

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Elliott Berry Says He’s Heard ‘Nothing’ From Tennessee

Many Tennessee fans are hoping to see brothers Elliott and Evan Berry sign with the Vols in 2014.

That’s because their older brother, Kansas City safety Eric Berry, was a star player at Tennessee from 2007-09.

There’s a long way to go until the Berry twins will be able to sign with a school, which might be a good thing for Tennessee. That’s because the Berry twins haven’t heard recently from anyone at the school.

“Nothing,” Elliott Berry told MaxPreps.com. “They fired the coach (Charlie Baggett) that has our area.”

Baggett’s departure from Tennessee was described by some as a “retirement,” although some close to the program believe the move was forced by the school.

Tennessee is expected to recruit Elliott and Evan Berry, who project to be two of the top athletes in the 2014 class, but the Vols will have plenty of competition. Elliott told MaxPreps he’s been offered by and has been hearing from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and LSU.

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PR Bungle: Dooley Won’t Give Vol WR Arnett A Free Pass To Transfer

Derek Dooley is developing quite the reputation for being a stickler.  Maybe that’s just the lawyer in him.  But Tennessee’s head coach is now — for the third time — putting his foot down when it comes to a player looking to transfer.

Yesterday, freshman receiver DeAnthony Arnett let it be known that he wants to return to his home state of Michigan to be closer to his father, whose poor health has worsened in recent months.

Soon after, UT announced that Dooley would not allow Arnett to have a free pass out of town.  According to an email the player sent to the media, Michigan and Michigan State are off limits to him:

“If I wanted to attend The University of Michigan and Michigan State University then I would have to pay for school instead of be on the Scholorship.  I dont know whats next my family cant afford to pay for school and my father health reason isnt good enough excuse for me to attend a BCS school close to home.”

Sidenote — It’s ridiculous what Twitter and texting are doing to the English language.  Do kids even know what an apostrophe is anymore?

Back to the topic, Dooley appears A-OK with Arnett heading to the Mid-American Conference, but he doesn’t want him going to a football power.  Here’s a UT spokesperson’s take on the situation:

“We’re not denying him a release to be near his family, get a good education and play Division I football at the same time, but we do have a policy of not releasing players to schools we either play or recruit against.”

Outside of bowl games — and Dooley didn’t have to worry about that one this year — the Vols don’t meet up with the Wolverines and Spartans often.  In fact, in more than a century of football, UT has played Michigan once and State never.  And it’s not as if Tennessee squares off with great regularity against those schools on the recruiting trail, either.

Admittedly, no one can be sure if Arnett is seeking a transfer just because he wants to be near his father.  Rumors suggest he was tight with departed receivers coach Charlie Baggett.  So maybe he wants out because he’s disgruntled.  And it’s also possible that UT coaches feel Michigan or MSU might have tampered with the player.  Who knows?

But for Dooley, this is a PR battle he doesn’t need to fight right now.  He’s already played hardball with two players who wanted to transfer when he took over — Lane Kiffin-signee Bryce Brown and Phillip Fulmer-signee Aaron Douglas both met major resistance in their attempts to leave Knoxville.  Now Arnett is getting the same treatment and not everyone on the Tennessee messageboards is thrilled about it.

Nick Saban — who Dooley served under — and Les Miles can get away with being tough guys in these types of matters because they win.  Dooley hasn’t.  So he’s not getting universal support in his decision to block a player whose father is sick from playing at a big school (which could aid Arnett’s professional aspirations).

We view it as another public relations misstep for a coach who lost at Kentucky to close the season and then decided to go into silent mode.  Many ornery Vol fans have voiced their displeasure with their coach’s disappearance since November.

Dooley should be worried about winning with the guys he’s got.  If a kid wants to transfer because he’s homesick or his playing time isn’t what he’d hoped, fine, he should hold onto him.  But this one looks bad.  And UT fans are split over their coach’s move.

That’s not what Dooley needs right now.  Because if he doesn’t start winning in 2012, he might spend the next few years of his career in the MAC right along with Arnett.

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Tennessee Commits Respond To Baggett’s Departure

Coaching changes can often have an effect on recruiting.

That’s why it was natural for Tennessee fans to wonder on Thursday how wide receiver coach Charlie Baggett’s departure might affect UT’s recruiting.

So far the Vols appear to be in OK shape.

Wide receiver commit Keithon Redding from Decatur, Ga., told MrSEC he was “shocked” to hear Baggett is leaving UT but remains committed to the Vols.

“He played a big role in me committing to Tennessee,” Redding said. “But it doesn’t affect me.”

It hasn’t affected receiver commit Jason Croom from Norcross, Ga., either. Croom indicated via twitter that his commitment to UT is firm.

Athlete Justin King from Dunwoody, Ga., told MrSEC via text message that he remains committed to UT, but he did express an interest in the stability of the rest of the Vols’ coaching staff.

Uncommitted wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College will be a prospect to watch.

Patterson, who’s considered the nation’s top junior college prospect by Rivals.com, has already visited UT and is still considering Georgia, Arkansas and Auburn.

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