Happy returns for Vols' Hunter, Rogers?

March, 30, 2011
Sophomore receivers Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers are two of Tennessee’s most promising offensive playmakers.

Hunter, also a star long jumper on the Vols’ track team, caught seven touchdown passes last season as a freshman, and the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Rogers has come back from his freshman season this spring looking as physically imposing as ever.

It’s no secret the Vols want to get both players the ball next season, which means you could see both back deep on kicks.

Hunter has been lobbying to return punts, and Rogers is determined to entrench himself as the deep man on kickoffs. He averaged 24.8 yards on 12 returns a year ago to lead Tennessee.

The 6-4, 182-pound Hunter thinks he could provide a spark to a Tennessee punt return unit that finished 11th in the SEC last season. The Vols averaged just 4.1 yards per return.

“It's just something that I've liked since I was in high school,” Hunter said. “I watched everybody in the NFL do it, and it looked so fun. You could actually move out there instead of like just kick return, where you have to go in a straight line and have to make your moves and just go. I'm a real shifty guy, and I like to move.”

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley would still like to see Hunter become more physical and add that aspect to an already unlimited supply of athletic ability.

“His biggest thing right now is his stature, meaning his strength,” Dooley said. “That's something he's going to have to work on to be a really good every-down receiver. When people get their hands on him now, they can push him around. His strength development is very important this summer.”



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