It was time for Vols' Rogers to hit the door

August, 23, 2012
8/23/12
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We might never know just how many chances Da'Rick Rogers blew at Tennessee.

It certainly sounds, though, like he just blew his last one.

Tennessee announced Thursday that the Vols’ junior All-SEC receiver had been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Coach Derek Dooley went a step further following practice Thursday and said he didn’t expect Rogers to return to the program. Sources told ESPN.com that Rogers' suspension came after multiple violations of the school's substance abuse policy for athletes.

That’s a shame on one end, because Dooley as recently as last weekend was raving about how well Rogers had performed in preseason camp, and how much his attitude had improved.

There’s no getting around what a difference-maker Rogers could be on the field with his blend of size, strength and athletic ability. After all, he led the SEC with 67 catches last season.

But there’s also no getting around the fact that Rogers was a divisive force in the locker room and cared a whole lot more about himself than he did anybody else in the program.

We’ve seen it time and time again when talented players like Rogers succumb to their selfishness. You simply can’t count on them for the long term, because they always end up breaking your heart just when you think they’ve maybe turned the corner.

Rogers was never going to turn the corner, not with his me-first attitude. Dooley did all he could to manage Rogers and keep him in the program. The most talented players always get a little more rope, although some might argue that Rogers got so much rope that he thought he was above rules and such petty items as team policy.

It was always something with Rogers. He was barred from working out with the team this offseason for two weeks, and then there were rumblings in the spring that he planned to transfer.

He was a big part of Tennessee’s meltdown in the 10-7 loss to Kentucky last season, and some inside the program said he was openly defiant in the waning stages of that game as far as what that loss might mean for Dooley’s future.

Rogers also had multiple run-ins with strength coach Ron McKeefery, and Rogers is lucky that McKeefery didn't flatten him right there on the field given how insubordinate Rogers was to McKeefery during the Vols' 49-7 blowout loss to Arkansas last season.

It was just a matter of time before Rogers, as talented as he was, was finally shown the door.

As somebody at Tennessee told me after the news broke Thursday, better now than five or six games into the season.

At least now, the Vols can prepare without him … and do so with a little peace and a genuine sense of team.

One player can’t make a team, not in the realm of SEC football, but one player can sure wreck a team.

Chris Low | email

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