Rogan ready for returns

Trooper Taylor sees a lot of himself in one of Tennessee's freshman football players … but that may not be entirely a good thing.

Dennis Rogan, a 5-10, 182-pound freshman cornerback from Knoxville Fulton, worked on punt returns in Saturday morning's kicking scrimmage, along with Jonathan Hefney, Denarius Moore and Lucas Taylor. Rogan is bidding to be the No. 2 option behind Hefney, who ranked 17th nationally with a 12.1-yard average in 2006.

Trooper Taylor, who set school records as a return specialist at Baylor University, was asked to characterize Rogan as a return man.

"I tell you: Rogan has no fear," the Vol aide said. "There can be 12 guys standing by him and he does NOT flinch. The hardest thing to get him to do is to fair-catch the ball. That's something he needs to learn ‘cause you can be separated from that ball."

Taylor said Rogan must accept that the occasional fair catch is preferable to a jarring hit because "at the end that play we need to possess the football. Once Rogan gets that down I think he'll be a great guy back there because he's tough, he's not afraid and he can do something with that ball under his arm."

Taylor understands a guy being reluctant to call for fair catches. He was similarly hard-headed when he returned punts for Baylor.

"No fear … all the time … same way," Taylor said with a laugh. "I'd run through glass. I'd hit it and run till I hit glass. That's all I knew."

Although Rogan needs to become a little more cautious, Taylor loves the freshman's aggressive approach to the return game.

"With a returner, you want somebody to say ‘Whoa' not ‘Sick ‘em,' and he's definitely that guy," the Vol aide said. "Hopefully, he'll get an opportunity sometime this year."

Odds are, Rogan will get that opportunity at some point. Because Hefney also starts at free safety, he is at risk to suffer fatigue and/or injury during the course of a 12-game season. Asked if he would be confident enough to throw Rogan out there on a punt return in that case, head coach Phillip Fulmer nodded emphatically.

"Absolutely," the head man said. "I wouldn't say THROW him out there. I'm ready to PUT him out there. I think he would handle it well. I think Denarius Moore could handle it well, punts or kickoffs. There's about six or seven of ‘em that I don't have any concerns about them going out there right now and getting it done."


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