If you’ve been following me on Twitter over the past six-eight months, you have probably been annoyed at the praise I constantly had for a big, physical, but troubled receiver out of the small FCS school, Tennessee Tech. That receiver is named Da’Rick Rogers, and the Buffalo Bills have signed him as an undrafted free agent.
Rogers was originally a five-star recruit out of Calhoun High School in Atlanta, Georgia, and was heavily recruited by Georgia and Tennessee.
After accepting a scholarship to play for the Volunteers, Rogers appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman, catching 11 passes for 167 yards and two scores. As a sophomore, Rogers became a full-time starter and was named All-SEC after recording 67 receptions for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.
However, what looked to be a promising collegiate career began to spiral downward. Tennessee’s head coach Derek Dooley dismissed Rogers from the team following numerous arguments with coaches, multiple failed drug tests and an arrest for disorderly conduct and resisting, after a brawl that left an off-duty police officer unconscious.
Despite his off-field issues, an assistant coach compared him to Chris Carter in terms of football intelligence, stating
“Da’Rick is the second-smartest football player I’ve been around,” said Charlie Baggett, former Tennessee assistant head coach and wide receivers coach, “and (Hall of Famer) Cris Carter is the first. Da’Rick doesn’t know how to be a pro like Cris Carter was, but he can immediately comprehend things the normal guy his age takes time to learn.”
Remember Carter’s issues coming into the National Football League?
Rogers was forced to transfer to Tennessee Tech, a small, unknown FCS college. He shined there, playing like a man among boys, catching 61 passes for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns, despite facing consistent double and even triple coverage throughout every game.
In one game, Rogers caught 18 passes for 303 yards, while there were two cornerbacks lined up directly over him the entire game.
His coach at Tennessee Tech had nothing but praise for Rogers regarding his time with the school, stating
“I don’t know what went down in Knoxville, but there was not an incident with him in Cookeville,” Brown said. “He had to learn a little bit and become a team guy. He didn’t come in with any of that ‘me-me-me’ stuff.”
Following the 2012 season, Rogers declared for the NFL draft, and lit up the combine, running a 4.48 40-yard dash, and finishing in the top five among wide receivers in the 3-cone, the 20-yard shuttle, the 60-yard shuttle, the broad jump and the vertical.
At the combine, Rogers accepted responsibility and didn’t place the blame on anybody, stating
“I did it to myself. You have to accept responsibility for what you did and move forward,” said Rogers, who added that he passed 10 drug tests while at Tennessee Tech. “All I can do is come in, work hard and get my foot in the door.”
Following an impressive combine performance, many believed that he would be selected somewhere between the second and fourth round, like LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who dealt with similar, but not as severe off-the-field issues as Rogers. However, as the picks came in, Rogers’ name wasn’t called.
The Buffalo Bills signed him immediately following the draft. If Rogers’ stays out of trouble, Buddy Nix found his “Big outside receiver that can make catches when he’s covered.”
Rogers is a true No. 1 receiver and if he keeps his head in the right direction, the Bills’ offense will feature arguably the best three receiver set in the National Football League.