Nance’s friendship main reason Da’Rick Rogers now with Vols

The power of friendship cannot be underestimated in the decisions of Calhoun's Da'Rick Rogers (left) and Nash Nance to sign with Tennessee. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

The power of friendship cannot be underestimated in the decisions of Calhoun's Da'Rick Rogers (left) and Nash Nance to sign with Tennessee. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

It requires some context to understand Da’Rick Rogers’ decision to leave Georgia at the altar on the eve of national signing day and follow his best friend Nash Nance to Tennessee.

And make no mistake about it — Nance and his family are the primary reason Rogers signed with the Vols.

“The power of friendship is huge,” Rogers told the AJC’s Bob Andres after he signed his letter-of-intent with UT on Wednesday.

Despite coming from divergent backgrounds, Rogers and Nance are indeed the best of friends. They met while they were attending the Darlington School, a private boarding school in Rome.

“We’re pretty much like brothers, black and white brothers,” Rogers said in a previous interview with the AJC.

Said Nance: “He’s more like a brother than a friend. I’ll always be there for him.”

That close relationship extends to the Nance family, which happens to be one of the most successful and affluent families in Calhoun-Gordon County.

Bob Nance, Nash’s grandfather, founded Nance Carpet and Rug Company, Inc., in the early 1970s and grew it into a major player in the prevalent carpet and textile industry of Northwest Georgia. Mike Nance, Bob Nance’s son and Nash’s father, took over the business in the mid-1980s and runs it today.

Rogers was born and raised in Atlanta but moved to Northwest Georgia with his mother, Deborah Rogers, after his parents divorced. Rogers attended the Darlington School, a private boarding school in Rome, on an athletic scholarship.

It was at Darlington that Rogers met Nance. The two boys became close friends, as well as stars on the football team.

For reasons still unclear, Rogers was unable to continue his education at Darlington after his sophomore year. I asked Rogers to explain his departure in an interview this past November.

“Well, mainly they wanted me to be a leader throughout the school,” Rogers said. “And it was kind of hard because it was conflicted with me being a bigger athlete and them not really seeing athletes like me around the school. People felt intimidated by me and that made it hard for me to be a leader around the school. I tried and it just didn’t work out. It was just kind of like bashing heads all the time.”

It was on the suggestion of Mike Nance that Rogers ended up at Calhoun High School.

“I knew Nash Nance and I knew his dad really well; we were best friends at the time,” Rogers said. “[Mike Nance] said, ‘Calhoun has a great program. Instead of going back to Atlanta you can come up here and I can look out for you and help you out.’ So I came up here and that’s been the best move for me.”

Since then, the two boys have been inseparable and Rogers has become almost like another member of the family. Rogers spends the night over at the Nances “two or three times a week,” Nash Nance said. He also takes vacations with and spends holidays with the family.

Rogers refuted claims that he actually lived with the Nances for a period of time.

“I never stayed with him,” Rogers said. “We have our own house here in Calhoun. But I’m always over there hanging out with him, spending the night, just spending a lot of time with him.”

Nance remained at Darlington his junior year but transferred to Calhoun for his senior season. It was a somewhat controversial move that resulted in the Yellow Jackets’ starting quarterback from the previous season, Michael Johnson, quitting the team. Johnson had led Calhoun to the state championship finals the previous year. The Yellow Jackets lost in the state finals again this past season.

This past summer, Nance and Rogers were together again. In early June, they held a joint news conference to announce their college choices. Nance, a 4.0 student, said he was going to sign with Vanderbilt. Rogers put on a Georgia hat and said he was going to be a Bulldog.

Eight months later, neither young man followed through.

Both remained, in their words, “rock solid” in their commitments to their original schools through the New Year. It wasn’t until Jan. 5 that Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron slid into Calhoun — bypassing the accepted protocol of informing the high school coach they were there — and introduced the possibility of Nance and Rogers coming to Knoxville as “a package deal.” After meeting an hours-long meeting with both players at the Nance home, the Vols coaches convinced them to take an official visit to UT together on Jan. 22.

That offer exposed the soft underbelly of those “rock-solid” commitments. Mississippi State, Louisville and Arkansas all came forth with similar offers in the following weeks. And after Kiffin jetted to USC in mid-January, new Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and his staff came right back to Calhoun and re-extended the offer.

Playing together had been something the boys had discussed before. They actually brought it up with Georgia first. But they were informed long ago that the Bulldogs did not intend to sign a quarterback in their 2010 recruiting class.

However, Georgia ended up offering and accepting the commitment of Lassiter quarterback Hutson Mason just before Christmas. That did not sit well with the Nances.

“After they offered Hutson Mason I wasn’t really thrilled with them,” Nash Nance admitted last month.

Mason set a state record with 4,560 yards and 54 touchdowns last season and ended up being named Gatorade Player of the Year in Georgia. Nance threw for 3,018 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior. Rogers, his main target, established the state receiving record with 1,641 yards.

Even in the last two weeks of the recruiting period, Rogers maintained he was still committed to Georgia. “They don’t have anything to worry about,” he said. “They know I’m locked in.”

But when Nance decommitted to Vanderbilt and committed to Tennessee on Jan. 27, it was evident that Rogers was likely soon to follow.

He called Richt this past Tuesday to inform him he wasn’t coming to Athens.

“It was hard calling [Richt],” Rogers told reporters at his signing ceremony Wednesday. “Of course no head coach is going to be happy that they’re losing, I guess, their top recruit. He just said, ‘I wish you’d come. We’re still thinking about you. Your scholarship will still be there in the morning. I wish you’d rest on it and decide what you need to do to make you happy.’ ”

His friendship with Nance, Rogers admitted, was a major factor.

“Nash is his own person,” Rogers said. “But him being my best friend, by logic, it affects me. At the end of the day it was my decision. After listening to everything and what everybody had to say, I still had to sit down by myself and think about what I had to do and pray about what I had to do.”

The answer: Follow his friend to Rocky Top.

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977 comments Add your comment

GSU

February 5th, 2010
8:57 am

Good for them…

JFKDawg

February 5th, 2010
8:59 am

Who cares? The kid is an afterthought. He’s made his bed, now let him sleep in it. If he’s not one of us, he’s one of them.

no dog

February 5th, 2010
9:00 am

Won’t be long until the dawg fans get on here and start trashing these kids.

rico43

February 5th, 2010
9:02 am

Love this development, hate it, or if you couldn’t care less, if you are an adult and wish injury or any kind of harm to these kids, you deserve to be banned from this site for life.

Jwill13

February 5th, 2010
9:02 am

At the end of the day the Nance Family was upset that their kid didn’t get the Ga. offer. I guess D Rogers isn’t his own man. I wish him luck and all the great success. If it don’t work out at least he knows he has a job in the carpet industry.

joe

February 5th, 2010
9:02 am

Good Luck,Coachs change all time.

Dawg Fud

February 5th, 2010
9:03 am

VolAlum

February 5th, 2010
9:06 am

Obviously I’m elated they are coming to Knoxville, but this is one of hundreds of flip flops from Wednesday. There needs to be an early signing period and this won’t happen.

Some Dawgs fans

February 5th, 2010
9:07 am

I was a huge Da’Rick Rogers until he changed his mind and signed with Tennessee. Now I hate him and believe he has character problems. I hear he hates puppies and children.

Goldtimer

February 5th, 2010
9:07 am

BWAHAHAHAHAHA…. the poor little mutts lose their “top recruit” and they are still crying over it. I’m surprised anybody of note signed on that sinking ship.

Jax Dawg

February 5th, 2010
9:08 am

They couldn’t be BFFs from different campuses?

Dawg Fud

February 5th, 2010
9:08 am

“After they offered Hutson Mason I wasn’t really thrilled with them,” Nash Nance admitted last month.

After you went back on your word, Bobby Johnson was probably not too thrilled with you.

Kenny Powers

February 5th, 2010
9:09 am

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

February 5th, 2010
9:09 am

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ That’s what took him to (ob)knoxville. Bought and paid for, period. He will be a star, but in a no class way

dawg man

February 5th, 2010
9:09 am

who cares about the two boyfriends. On to the next story!!!!

Jax Dawg

February 5th, 2010
9:10 am

VolAlum. With the early signing period would recruits be able to sign elsewhere when the coach they signed with leaves and goes to California or be forced to stay at the original school?

Dawg Fud

February 5th, 2010
9:10 am

Goldtimer,

this sinking ship shredded your defense on the flats this past season. pipe down there, chump. go punch iowa in the face, oh, wait…nevermind.

SiddyBoy

February 5th, 2010
9:12 am

Hope there’s a huge bed on one or the other’s wedding night. May get crowded. Or maybe they will need just bed-for 2 friends-who knows?

raymond

February 5th, 2010
9:14 am

Please shut up about this kid there has been enough said

Bling and blang

February 5th, 2010
9:14 am

Darick is really showing his bling in that photo. This guy is a limelight grabber hands down and was used by the white kids dad to get his son into a major SEC program period. Darick will be in the news in knoxville on the jail blotter page just wait and see.

Dawg NW Florida

February 5th, 2010
9:15 am

We lost a potential great player , but it is for the best if we had to take Nash . How can we beleve what he says about Georgia ? Both he and rogers went back on their word .

Tailback U

February 5th, 2010
9:15 am

It is what it is and was a lousy loss due to family/friend ties .
But hey it’s time to move on and realize sometimes
life happens on the way to the bank.
If Marlon Brown comes on to becme a significant contributor
this nest season it will definitely make the loss a lot less painful.

Denver Dog

February 5th, 2010
9:15 am

Good luck to him and good job recruiting by UT. They had way too many scholarships and they wasted one to get one. It happens all the time, we do it and so does everyone else. I’m thrilled with the UGA class, and Gold TImer, back off buddy, I don’t think we wrote the article.

OldDawg

February 5th, 2010
9:16 am

It is over…done!

I will never harbor ill will toward an immature 18 year old kid…soooo as much as I woild have loved to have Rogers honor his 8 month long commitment to UGA…he did not and I wish him the best except for 1 game each year!

But I do have to say anyone who thinks for one nano second that this was not all about a power play by Mike Nance and his $$$ is a fool! PERIOD!

He parlayed Da’Rick Roger’s athletic ability and his $$$ to get his at best semi-talented son Nash a scholly to the school of Mike Nance’s choosing! Nash Nance will NEVER see the field at UTe except as a scout team member and clip board toter!

Congrats to Mike Nance…he got what he wanted…Rogers probably does not even realize he is and was no more than a “pawn” in Mike Nance’s game….well played I might add!

In no way do I fault Rogers, and I do hope he escapes with no damage when KARMA comes calling!

mark olsen

February 5th, 2010
9:17 am

““After they offered Hutson Mason I wasn’t really thrilled with them,” Nash Nance admitted last month.”….boo hooo…cry me a damn river…you are not as good as hutson mason

PMC

February 5th, 2010
9:18 am

The important thing is that both feel they went to the right school for them and they got a scholarship. This is the inevitability of recruiting.

Georgia got Marlon Brown last year Tennessee winds up with Rogers this year. All is fair until they sign on the line which is dotted.

Dawg Fan and Insider

February 5th, 2010
9:18 am

I’ve heard some good rumors about the Nance family, living in the heart of Bulldog Nation. I, however, know Mike and Nash and I’ll tell ya’ right here, they’re class acts and people need to realize when it’s time to separate fan-hood and real life. Nash is one of the best kids I’ve ever seen and is a great influence on Da’Rick. He SHOULD follow him to UT.

Richt & Roll

February 5th, 2010
9:18 am

Take a look at this article, it compares the coaching resumes of UGA & GA Tech’s football & basketball coaches. I still think UGA’s got it better.
http://www.atlantasportssoup.com/marksvpauls/

jimmy

February 5th, 2010
9:19 am

kid’s don’t think,how many passes did joe cox throw to masaq1uois

Paddy

February 5th, 2010
9:19 am

Da’Rick…”.they wanted me to be a leader at my school.” So I had to leave. Goodness, that type of thinking will take you a long way in this world. Don’t expect to see this young man on the field at UT any time soon!

Mt. Pleasant Daeg

February 5th, 2010
9:20 am

It’s funny Rogers mentioned “logic”. Logic? You leave a Coach with 90 wins in 9 seasons and head to play for a Coach 17-20? You leave the school that has put more guys into the NFL than any other SEC school? You pass up being in 1-on-1 coverage across from AJ Green and head to Tenn to invite double teams? You pass up catching balls from a Parade All-American QB 85% more productive than your best friend? There was NOTHING logical about his choice–it was illogical–he wanted to be with his best friend? This was the most ILLOGICAL move I’ve seen in 20 years.

True reason he changed his mind:
Playing time. Rogers wasn’t as sure he could beat out the other WR’s at Georgia as he could the guys at Tenn. Which means he doesn’t have confidence in his own skills. Which means, we should be glad he left.

Bottom line–Da rick Rogers broke his word to Coach Richt. He didn’t keep his word. Georgia doesn’t need guys like that. We want character guys. Glad he’s gone. Don’t think we’ll hear much more from Da Rick again. Georgia’s new recruit WR Michael Bennett will outperform him by a mile.

hammerhead

February 5th, 2010
9:20 am

Great story of friendship that didn’t go our way. We’d be praising these kids had they decided to come to Athens instead of Knoxville. Good for them, but I hope they never win a game of consequence. Nothing personal, I just despise Tennessee. And, Goldtimer, really? I can’t remember the last time I visited a Tech blog. Go do something useful.

Ed Orgeron

February 5th, 2010
9:21 am

You boys wasn’t supposed to tell that story about me and kiffy coming to Calhoun unannounced. They just 2 best friends, just like kiffy and me.

GISDawg

February 5th, 2010
9:22 am

Interesting story. If nothing else it fleshes out this whole fiasco and makes us realize these are real people with real backgrounds and stories and they are not just “a five star” or whatever.

Greg

February 5th, 2010
9:23 am

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

AUEric

February 5th, 2010
9:23 am

JFK?…you sound more like george bush….yuck! War Eagle!!!

bob horner stayed hurt

February 5th, 2010
9:24 am

well put Tailback U…..I agree…we also have Isreal Troupe who has a lot of potential…

PTC DAWG

February 5th, 2010
9:25 am

Good luck to them…

The Other St. Simons

February 5th, 2010
9:25 am

Who cares. We got Lonnie Outlaw. He makes Fred Gibson look like a girl.

jbzoso32

February 5th, 2010
9:25 am

and rogers is now the proud owner of HALF the Nance carpet dynasty.

Dogbytes

February 5th, 2010
9:26 am

Goldtimer;
Never any chance either would play their college football at “the little house” aka “the joke by coke”…Man, if you give it out, you gonna get it back….

Magic Man

February 5th, 2010
9:26 am

Da’Rick, you might have prayed as a formality, but you are not a strong, practicing Christian. Christians, according to the Bible, are men of their words. They are not affected by the lure of outside influences encouraging them to go against their word. They think through everything and listen to the Lord’s advice and their support group’s advice and do what is the very best situation for them. Unfortunately, you did what is best for Nash Nance and the Nance family, not what is best for you. What is best for you would have been to honor your word? If you weren’t sure you wanted to play for UGA, you should have waited to make your decision in the first place.

bobo

February 5th, 2010
9:26 am

We aint throwin anyways with those 2 tailbacks we got.

Nick

February 5th, 2010
9:26 am

It’s sad that Da’Rick will never get a throw from his bff at UT. 2 star recruits don’t get offers from the big boys, unless there is a 5 star recruit wavering…

GEORGIABASEBALL30809

February 5th, 2010
9:26 am

PUT A UGA SIGNEE ON THE FRONT PAGE….

Bill

February 5th, 2010
9:27 am

UGA lied to the kids….If you can’t trust your Coach, you’re in trouble. Don’t blame Rogers.

Buckhead Dawg

February 5th, 2010
9:28 am

Oh how stupid young people are. Me thinks Da’Rick = Nu’Keese. Sad to lose him but also somewhat glad. Let’s let this play out folks.

Good lord, now not only to Tech nerds have to worry about getting shot or robbed, but also getting stabbed by a Samuri sword. Unbelievable. Why the hell would anyone go to that school?

Topp Dogg

February 5th, 2010
9:28 am

Its called jungle love guess who is on top.

mdr

February 5th, 2010
9:28 am

There is so much more back room shadiness to this story, Chip. You make it sound all warm and fuzzy. UT will be on probation before this kid leaves Knox-Vegas, and Nash will never play a down at UT. He’ll probably transfer at the insistence of his meddling father within two years.

Ed Orgeron

February 5th, 2010
9:30 am

Magic Man, come on man; dont give me that crap about a man of words. Situations change, even saintly Richt changed and signed a QB after telling the young man they weren’t signing one. Dont be so self-righteous.