Vols trying to set up camp in N.C.

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Derek Dooley has not been able to sign a player out of the state of North Carolina since he arrived as the coach at the University of Tennessee. In fact, the Volunteers haven't signed a player from the Tar Heel state since former linebacker Austin Johnson.

However, Dooley and his newly formulated coaching staff are now hard at work early to make in-roads to N.C. and one offer they have extended landed in the hands of defensive end Dane Rogers.

Dooley and the Vols are second to the party in the recruitment of Rogers who was first offered by N.C. State.

"N.C. State was my first offer and they offered me at their junior day, which I wasn't expecting," Rogers said. "They all just come at you when you don't really expect it. I was really surprised. My mom was with me luckily because I was just sitting there with my mouth wide open."

While Rogers hasn't heard much from the Tennessee staff, that didn't change his excitement level Monday when he snagged the offer from the Orange and White.

"It was very exciting to get the offer," he said. "I didn't expect the offer from Tennessee this early. I was really surprised because I hadn't really communicated with them all that much.

"My coach told me that Tennessee called and now I have an offer from Tennessee. It was right before school ended so I didn't get to talk to the coaches, but hopefully I will talk to them soon."

Rogers is the high school teammate of five-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard. And he has already sought guidance of the now Florida Gator.

"I haven't really talked to Jon about Tennessee yet," Rogers said. "He did tell me that they are a great school, but we will probably talk about them more soon. He said it was one of his top five so there must be some really good things about them."

A factor that Tennessee may have to fight in the recruitment of Rogers is distance and grabbing the Shelby, N.C., native out of his home state.

"I am pretty much open to anyone who is recruiting me right now, which means that there is about a 50 percent chance that I will stay in Carolina and a 50 percent chance that I will leave," he said. "I am not sure yet."

One thing that could aide the Vols is the lure of the Southeastern Conference.

"It is great to get my first offer from the SEC and Tennessee," Rogers said. "The SEC is a big-time level of play and that means a lot knowing I have an offer from and SEC school. That means that I can play in that conference. It would be a big challenge."

Rogers and Crest Senior High School are fresh off a 2011 season (12-4) that saw them travel all the way to the NCHSAA Class 3AA state finals where they fell to Northern Guilford 31-7.

"My junior season was by far the best season that I had with Crest," he said. "I learned so much playing with Jonathan. It's hard to get to the state title game and this was our second. A lot of people doubted that we could get back, but we did it. I wish we could have won it, but I am still happy."

Rogers, a 6-foot-3, 226-pounder, bench presses 290 pounds, squats 370, and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. He plans to attend one of the Volunteers upcoming junior days.

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