COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Tech wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers said he is maturing as a person. His football future depends on it.
The former all-Southeastern Conference standout, who said he left Tennessee after being suspended for positive drug tests, continues to show there is no question about his ability.
Rogers has 34 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns in Tennessee Tech's first five games. He already owns single-game school records for catches and receiving yards.
"It's the same old me, just in a more mature sense," the former Tennessee star said. "I have a different mentality about life and how you approach things."
Nobody questions Rogers' talent.
He led the SEC with 67 catches and ranked second in the conference with 1,040 receiving yards to earn all-conference honors with the Volunteers last season. Rogers was expected to team up with Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson this year to give Tennessee one of the nation's most dynamic receiving units.
Those plans unraveled less than two weeks before the start of the season when Rogers was suspended indefinitely. His transfer to Tennessee Tech was announced four days later. Because Tennessee Tech is a Football Championship Subdivision program, Rogers was eligible to play for his new team immediately.
Rogers remains a legitimate NFL prospect because of his rare combination of size (6-foot-3 and 206 pounds) and athleticism, but he can't repeat the mistakes that caused his move from the SEC to the Ohio Valley Conference. As a junior, Rogers would be eligible to enter the draft next year.
"It's your second chance, but it's your last chance," Rogers said.
His new teammates and coaches say he's making the most of it.
Rogers set school single-game records for catches (18) and receiving yards (303) two weeks ago in a 41-38 double-overtime loss to Southeast Missouri State. He is putting up his impressive stats despite facing constant double-teams and occasional triple-teams.
Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown, who coached Atlanta Falcons star Roddy White at UAB, said he has never seen one receiver get this much attention from opposing defenses.
"No one can guard him in this league one-on-one," Tennessee Tech quarterback Tre Lamb said. "They know that. We're pretty much playing 10-on-9 because they have to put two people on him."
Brown said Rogers also is making the right decisions off the field.
Before adding Rogers to the team, Brown spoke with Tennessee Tech's seniors to make sure they had no problem with it. Brown then established ground rules with Rogers, though they won't specify the nature of those conditions.