Peyton Manning’s career came to a close with a heart-warming speech in Denver. Tennessee got back to work on the practice field with championship expectations ahead for the fall.
The news Monday didn’t lack positivity for Vol Nation as it was but even more smiles made their way through the Tennessee coaching staff at the Anderson Training Center as Chase Rogers placed a call to let them know he decided Tennessee is the place for him and his college football.
“I called (Tennessee) coach (Larry) Scott and he put me on speaker and all the coaches heard me,” Rogers told InsideTennessee. “He passed me around and I talked to all the coaches except coach (Butch) Jones. I’m going to talk to him tomorrow. He messaged me and is going to talk to me tomorrow because he was tied up with some stuff.
“It was yelling in the background, it was great. I talked to Scott, my heart was racing, I was just excited. It was a great feeling.”
Tennessee now has two commitments for the 2017 class with both stemming from Saturday’s junior day. The other pledge is Scout three-star linebacker and Salem (Ga.) High School standout Mo Burnam.
Rogers did not expect to see everything that was laid out before him while he was in Knoxville for the first time. On top of that, the Tennessee coaches were far more personable than other staffs he’s known.
“Well, I went up there expecting it to not be that state of the art with the facilities and stuff. I was just amazed. That was really eye-opening,” Rogers said. “Then with everyone there, it was like I was family and they were family. It was like one big family. After talking to (Tennessee running backs) coach (Robert) Gillespie, coach Jones and coach Scott, they just made me feel like I was at home and everyone there did.
“My biggest thing when choosing a school was my position coach. I want someone who’s going to push me, have faith in me and believe in me from the beginning and coach Scott fits that person. He’s a great guy. I can’t wait to spend my years in college with him.
“It feels good to be wanted somewhere. Plenty of the schools I went and visited, it was like I was just a player there and didn’t spend time with me and didn’t actually sit down and have a conversation with me. They would just say hello. Here (at Tennessee), I actually talked to all the coaches. I had great conversations with them, and they spoke highly of me. It felt great.”
The St. Stanislaus (Miss.) Catholic School junior was able to envision himself donning the Power T and competing for the Big Orange.
“It was awesome,” Rogers said. “Being in that locker room and then just taking the walk that they walk before a game, then I actually walked out the tunnel and then going out there in the stadium and just looking around, I can really see myself playing there. I can only imagine 102,455 fans in there yelling while walking out. It’s going to be awesome.”
The first-year Tennessee assistant and former Miami (Fla.) interim head coach Scott began speaking with Rogers about a month and a half ago. The Scout three-star prospect got a scholarship offer from the Vols on Saturday during the junior day.
The 6-foot-2 1/2, 229-pounder camped at Ole Miss but ultimately selected Tennessee over California. Rogers helped his high school team reach the MHSAA Class 4A final before losing to Noxubee County 44-23.
“Mainly I split out in the slot but on occasion I’ll go down and block when they need me to block and sometimes on pass protection even,” said Rogers, who had 81 receptions in 2015. “For the most part, I’m like a receiver. We spread the ball around a lot. We had 5,400 passing yards and I had 1,400 of them, so everyone else gets the ball, too.
“I want to get faster, work on my agility and gain 10-15 pounds of muscle to be about 240.”
Rogers cannot enroll at Tennessee in January, however, he plans to take another unofficial visit to Rocky Top for the Orange & White game on April 16.
In 2014, Rogers reeled in 52 passes for 877 yards and nine touchdowns. St. Stanislaus reached the MHSAA Class 4A state championship game.