Spring Breakdown: Wide Receivers

InsideTennessee brings you a 10-part series of position battles heading into spring practice. Be sure to come back to InsideTennessee for all your Volunteer athletics information.

Since Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and his staff have arrived on campus it is hard to imagine that anyone has recruited the position of wide receiver at a higher level than the Volunteers.

However, as the Vols enter spring practice the receiving corps is surprisingly thin. Behind Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference First-Teamer Da'Rick Rogers, there are a lot of question marks. And, some would consider Rogers himself a question mark.

Following a 67-catch, 1,040-yard and nine-touchdown season, Rogers has been involved in altercations with the Tennessee strength and conditioning staff and spent time away from the team. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder has undeniable talent on the field, but Dooley won't shy away from dismissing even his top talent if need be (See Janzen Jackson).

Along with the question mark of Rogers, then comes the uncertainty surrounding Justin Hunter's health. Hunter, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the left knee at No. 16 Florida last September, has yet to prove he is 100 percent.

When healthy, Hunter is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the SEC, if not the nation. The numbers speak for themselves — three games, 314 yards and two touchdowns, which was enough to lead the SEC in receiving yards per game with 104.7.

Tennessee wide receiver Zach Rogers
In fact, prior to injury, Hunter ranked 12th in the NCAA and first in SEC in receptions per game (8.0) and 10th in the NCAA and first in SEC in receiving yards/game (151.0).

Behind Rogers and Hunter, things get very cloudy following the departure of emerging threat DeAnthony Arnett, who transferred to Michigan State citing family hardship. The first option to step up for the No. 3 role has to be senior wideout Zach Rogers.

Rogers, a 6-foot, 180-pounder, has more experience than anyone in the group, having seen action in 35 games. The Tennessee native played sparingly in 2011 while battling leg, shoulder and arm injuries, but still managed to collect 14 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown.

With Da'Rick Rogers and Hunter on the outside, a prototype slot receiver could emerge in the form of 5-foot-11, 185-pound Vincent Dallas. The Ellenwood, Ga., suffered a broken hand prior to the final game of the season with Kentucky, but showed flashes in his freshman campaign.

Dallas snagged his first catch at No. 16 Florida following the injury to Justin Hunter and closed the season with three receptions for 37 yards. He played in 11 games and proved useful as a blocking wideout in running situations.

Then, there is the injury-plagued Naz Oliver. It seems as though Oliver can't manage to stay healthy switching back and forth from defensive back to wide receiver. The 5-foot-10, 177-pound athlete underwent wrist surgery that ended his 2011 season after a torn ACL sidelined his 2010 year.

And while the five-star junior college prospect won't be on campus this spring, it is hard to go without mentioning the name Cordarrelle Patterson when addressing the Tennessee wide receivers.

Cordarrelle Patterson

Chris Price is a staff writer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously an intern for the site for two years before graduating from the University of Tennessee. He joined the InsideTennessee team in 2009.

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