Big enough to carry the load?

The fact that University of Tennessee football signee Dennis Rogan ran for 174 yards Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium, breaking the rushing record for a Tennessee-Kentucky high school all-star game, was an eye-opener.

It also may be a complication. Most observers assumed the former Knoxville Fulton High School star would play cornerback at UT. His performance against the Kentucky stars, however, suggests that assumption may be premature.

Certainly, numbers compiled in exhibition games must be taken with a grain of salt. Still, it's worth noting that UT's LaMarcus Coker, a heralded All-American coming of Antioch High School two years ago, rushed for just 16 yards on 11 carries in the 2005 Tennessee-Kentucky all-star game.

Rogan's accomplishments at Fulton certainly suggest he is capable of being a major college running back. He ran for 2,876 yards and 44 touchdowns as a senior last fall, setting a state record by piling up 296 points. He closed his prep career with an Offensive MVP performance in the Class 3A state title game, rushing for 208 yards in a defeat of David Lipscomb.

For his prep career, Rogan ran for 5,261 yards and 81 touchdowns, helping Fulton notch state titles in 2003, 2004 and 2006. Obviously, the guy has a knack for running the football.

The problem? Size. Tennessee lists Rogan as 5 feet 10 and 182 pounds. Most Vol tailbacks of recent vintage were considerably heavier than that. Jamal Lewis was 6-0 and 230. Jay Graham was 5-11 and 220, Travis Henry 5-10 and 220. Last year's tailback trio of Arian Foster (6-1, 215), Coker (5-11, 205) and Montario Hardesty (6-0, 205) had at least 20 pounds per man on Rogan.

Still, the UT record book shows that the program's all-time single-season rusher is one Travis Stephens, who rushed for 1,464 yards in 2001 while packing just 190 pounds on a 5-9 frame. And Charlie Garner (5-10, 190) wasn't much bigger than that in 1993, when he averaged a whopping 7.3 yards per carry - most by a UT back in 42 years - en route to 1,161 yards in just 10 games.

Is Dennis Rogan big enough to carry the load for the Vols?

Stay tuned.


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