Tennessee wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers was an AJC Super 11 selection and the No. 1 prospect in the state Georgia for the Class of 2010. He was actually committed to the Georgia Bulldogs for seven months, from June 2009 until he flipped his commitment to the Vols in January of 2010. Now a sophomore, the Calhoun resident enters Saturday’s game against Georgia in Neyland Stadium as Tennessee’s No. 1 offensive threat. He leads the Vols in receptions (27) and receiving yards (442). Rogers talked to reporters on a teleconference call on Wednesday and here’s what he had to say. . . .
Q: Can you please remind folks about how you came to sign with Tennessee after being committed to Georgia for so long?
A: “Really I just came on a visit [to Knoxville] and I fell in love with the team and the city. I just really wanted to be a part of a program that was rebuilding and that’s what really changed it for me.”
Q: Did Georgia have any hints or signs that you were going to flip on them? Did you surprise the coaches when you switched to Tennessee?
A. “I don’t know. I don’t know about the coaches. They can feel however they might have felt. It was all for me. You know, I had to go where I could be happy and I’m in a great place now. I’m happy here.”
Q: Word is the people of Calhoun were pretty upset with your decision. Has your hometown gotten over that?
A: “Oh, yeah, they’ve calmed down. At first people were just bitter because I went to a rival school. But now it’s just like, ‘we’ll cheer for Da’Rick wherever he is. We’re still Georgia fans but we’ll just be Tennessee fans, too.’
Q: Have you exchanged any tweets or Facebook messages with Bacarri Rambo this year?
A: “No, none at all.”
Q: Do you get especially fired up for playing Georgia?
A: “Most definitely. It’s sort of personal, this game is. But I’ll just be taking it like any other game. It’ll be a team effort and we’ll come out and play hard against a good team and see where it ends.”
Q: You didn’t have much of an impact in last year’s game against Georgia. What kind of improvements have you made since last year to put you in the position you are now?
A: “Mainly just with route-running and speed off the ball. College and the SEC are all about how fast it is. Once I got a hang of that and got the playbook down pat, I was just able to play fast. And then it was about who’s the better athlete.”
Q: What was playing in Sanford Stadium like for you last year?
A: “It was sort of new, being booed by the whole stadium. That was new to me. It was crazy to hear that. It didn’t really affect me. It was just a new environment, a new thing. I’m ready this year. I’ve trained a lot harder. It’ll be a good game.”
Q: How excited you going to be on Saturday?
A: “Well, of course, we’ll all be excited. But I’m going to do a good job of keeping my team levelheaded and play well. I’m going to try to be a leader and be calm for the team and not let my emotions get to me.”
Q: How has your role changed since Justin Hunter went down with the knee injury against Florida?
A: “It really hasn’t changed that much. The objective is always to catch balls and score touchdowns. The thing is, I’m the go-to guy now and I know that. I just have to make plays when the ball is thrown to me.”
Q: What’s it like playing with Tyler Bray as quarterback?
A: “To be honest, it’s pretty easy. He usually puts the ball where it needs to be, where only I can get it. It’s pretty much as simple as that.”
Q: What has made Bray such a better quarterback this season?
A: “Really just his work ethic and his composure. His composure is through the roof now. Last year he didn’t say much in the huddle. This year he’s definitely a vocal leader and keeps everything calm in the huddle. He’s really worked on his composure this year.”
Q: What are your thoughts on Georgia’s defense?
A: “Really they’re just an athletic front. They play fast. They always run to the ball. They’re great athletes and they make plays.”
Q: Do you feel like there was more talk between these two teams last year?
A: “I think so. But I’m the kind of guy, I feed off any kind of energy, whether it be a negative or a positive I flip it to a positive. So, you know, trash talking and everything, it just makes the game more intense for the fans to watch and makes it a more fun environment.”