CALHOUN — When Da’Rick Rogers sits down to make public his college decision on national signing day — if he in fact does it on that day — there will be at least two caps on the table in front of him. One from Georgia and one from Tennessee.
And there is a pretty good chance there will be a third one, too.
“Maybe Ohio State or something, just to throw everybody off,” he said with a laugh.
Rogers is a funny guy. He tries hard to keep things as light as he can these days. But the reality is Bulldogs’ fans probably don’t see much humor in the high-flying receiver’s recent decision to open up his recruitment to include the Vols.
Rogers, the No. 1-rated player in the AJC Top 50 state rankings and a UGA commitment since early June, decided last week to accompany Calhoun quarterback and best friend Nash Nance on an official visit to Tennessee this past weekend. The duo did in fact make that trip and Rogers reported that he was very impressed with new coach Derek Dooley, his coaching assemblage and, of course, the Volunteers’ football program.
“It was good,” said 6-foot-3, 215-pound Rogers, who set the state’s single-season receiving record with 1,641 yards this season. “I enjoyed it. I learned a lot. They have a lot of new staff, so I learned a lot about the new coaches and got a good feel of them. I got to know a lot about [new receivers coach] Charlie Baggett and Coach Dooley.”
Rogers went on to cite much of Baggett’s resume, that he’d tutored Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Chris Chambers in the NFL and Plaxico Burress and Andre Rison in college. And he talked about Dooley’s NFL experience under Nick Saban and leading Louisiana Tech from obscurity to its first bowl game in seven years in only two seasons.
The point? That Rogers was listening intently to the Vols’ spiel.
A little background here: I spent an hour-and-a-half with Rogers Monday at Phil Reeve Stadium in Calhoun as AJC photographer Jason Getz shot more than a few photos for a cool recruiting spread that will run in Sunday’s print edition and online sometime in or around there.
I found Rogers to be polite and honest as usual but guarded about what he said and especially about how much he said.
So just to be clear, I asked Rogers straight out if he was still committed to Georgia. “Yes, sir, I am,” he said.
Then I asked him if he was seriously considering Tennessee as an alternative. “Yeah, potentially,” he said.
But just as quickly Rogers kind of downplayed the whole experience. The main thing, he said, is that he had never been on an official visit to anywhere other than Georgia before this past weekend. He’d been on unofficial visits to a few places as a junior last year, but nothing more. He expressed regret that he hadn’t taken at least one trip out West, either to Oregon or USC.
“It was getting close to crunch time so I started thinking I just needed to check out some other places and that’s what I did,” Rogers said of the Tennessee visit. “I’m just making sure I’m going to the right school.”
And now that he’s cracked open that door just a smidge, there are tons of other programs rushing through to possibly get one last official out of Rogers. Southern Cal, Louisville, Arkansas and Mississippi State have all contacted him about doing just that. Those and others are trying to get into his home this week as the contact period continues before shutting down for good on Sunday.
I asked Rogers how the late recruiting push had him feeling.
“Oh, my head’s spinning,” he said. “It’s been spinning.”
For now Rogers said he’s not planning any more trips, though he did not rule it out completely. And as far as the Tennessee’s overtures, he said neither he nor Nance has sat down to fully contemplate and discuss the possibilities with their parents.
So we’ll all just have to wait until that day next week — or sometime before the signing period ends on May 31 — to see which cap Rogers puts on. Wonder then who will be laughing?