October 5, 2011

Rogers stays low-key

It was a low-keyed Da'Rick Rogers who addressed the Georgia media during a teleconference early Wednesday afternoon.

There was no brash talk, no pointed comments, no outlandish predictions or anything that could even be contrived as "bulletin board material."

When asked if he's exchanged any recent Facebook messages with Bulldog safety Bacarri Rambo, the Tennessee receiver was quick to shoot that suggestion down.

"Oh no, not at all," said Rogers, whose war of words last year with Rambo certainly made for entertaining fodder at the time it occurred.

Not this time.

Three weeks ago, Rogers engaged in a Twitter war with Florida safety Matt Elam, but basically toed the company line regarding the Bulldogs, saying how excited he was for the opportunity to play against the Bulldogs Saturday night at Neyland Stadium (7 p.m., ESPN2).

"Most definitely," Rogers said. "It's sort of personal, this game is, but I'll be taking it like any other game. It will be a team effort and we'll come out and play hard against a good team."

By now, Rogers' story is a familiar one to Bullldog fans.

Committed to Georgia, the Volunteer sophomore pulled a last-minute switcheroo, deciding right before National Signing Day to sign with head coach Derek Dooley.

"Basically, I just came on a visit and just fell in love with the team and the city," he said. "I just really wanted to be a part of somebody, a program that was rebuilding. That's really what changed it for me."

But Rogers' decision did not come without some feelings getting hurt along the way.

Rogers was asked if Georgia's coaches were among those who felt that way.

"I don't know. That's on the coaches," he said. "They can feel however they might have felt, but for me, I had to go where I was going to be happy, I'm in a great place and I'm happy here."

That was certainly true in Rogers' hometown of Calhoun, a Bulldog stronghold, although he claims feelings toward him haven't been as bitter as they once were.

"Oh yeah, they've calmed down," Rogers said. "At first it was bitter because I went to a rival school, but now it's let's just cheer for Da'Rick wherever he is. We're still Georgia fans, but we're happy for him, too."

Georgia head coach Mark Richt said Bulldog coaches weren't stunned that Rogers changed his mind. "I think wherever Da'Rick decided to go play football he'd be playing, no doubt about that. By the time he did de-commit we were pretty sure that he was going to do that. It didn't come as a shock at that point," Richt said. "We think he's a good player. We wanted him, we recruited him, we thought we had him for a while and then it changed. It happens in recruiting. It doesn't happen a lot with us historically. But there were some things that made him feel like Tennessee was the best place for him, so that's where he is and now we have to defend him."

That might be easier said than done.

Rogers is currently the second-leading receiver in the SEC with 27 catches for 442 yards and six touchdowns and is coming off a 180-yard effort in last week's 41-10 victory over Buffalo.

"He's a talented guy. He's got the size you look for and he's got the ability to go up and get the ball," Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "He runs good routes and really seems to have worked on his technique in the offseason. He's got a guy (Tyler Brey) who is going to get him the ball, one who is really accurate."

Although Rogers might be trying to take a low-key approach, Brey acknowledged his top target is fired up and ready to play.

"It's a big game," Brey said. "They'll be talking a lot of trash. We've just got to keep him (Rogers) level-headed and he should be fine."

Rogers said that will be no problem.

"I will be excited, but I think I'll do a good job of staying level-headed," he said. "I'm just trying to be a leader, be calm for the team and not let my emotions get to me."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]