(T-G File Photo by Chris Siers)
Rogers, a first-team all-Southeastern Conference receiver last year, was suspended indefinitely Thursday for a violation of team rules. Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said he doesn't expect Rogers to rejoin the team this season, though he didn't completely rule out the possibility.
"When you get into the coaching profession, you quickly learn that probably the No. 1 professional hazard is the behavior of 18- to 22-year-olds," Dooley said. "I can assure you guys this, that there's not one player, there's not really one member in the whole organization that we're not prepared to go play without."
Rogers, who had 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns last season, is the latest high-profile SEC player to run into trouble.
Tyrann Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season, was kicked off LSU's team this month. Georgia dismissed running back Isaiah Crowell in June after his arrest on weapons charges. Former Auburn running back Michael Dyer transferred to Arkansas State after getting suspended indefinitely before last season's Chick-fil-A Bowl for a violation of team rules, then he was kicked off his new team in July.
Dooley wouldn't say what would it take for Rogers to rejoin the Volunteers this season.
"I don't want to get into specifics on that," Dooley said. "I think the assumption is he's not with us, and it's very unlikely he will be."
Tennessee was counting on the combination of quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Justin Hunter and Rogers to form one of the SEC's most dynamic passing attacks. The Volunteers are attempting to bounce back from consecutive losing seasons. In a 45-23 victory last September over a Cincinnati team that finished 10-3, Hunter and Rogers became the first receivers in school history to catch 10 passes in the same game.
Hunter tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against Florida the next week, Bray later missed five games with a fractured right thumb and Tennessee went on to finish 5-7. Now the Vols again must deal with adversity again a week before their Aug. 31 season opener against North Carolina State at the Georgia Dome.
Bray noted that dealing with Hunter's injury last season could help Tennessee respond to this latest setback.
"It's a little different circumstance, but it's about the same thing," Bray said. "We have a mature group this year. We'll be fine."
Cordarrelle Patterson, a newcomer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, will probably replace Rogers' spot in the starting lineup.