Da'Rick puts on a show

I tend to be skeptical about five-star football prospects, figuring many of them are NOT all that and a bag of chips.

In some cases I'm right. In the case of heralded wide receiver Da' Rick Rogers, I suspect I was wrong.

When Rogers dropped a catchable pass a few minutes into Tennessee's Wednesday evening practice, I thought, "Yep, he's overrated."

A few minutes later, however, I saw the guy make one of the most acrobatic moves I've ever seen in any sport.

At the end of a quick hitch, he leaped high to try to reel in an overthrow from former Calhoun (Ga.) High School teammate Nash Nance. Rogers tipped the ball upward, somehow got his weight going forward as he fell, then reeled in the ball with one hand on his way to the ground. Alas, he dropped the ball as he hit the turf. Still, the athleticism he showed on that play was amazing.

With co-worker James Bryant assessing the defensive players during the evening workout, I focused on the offensive players. Others who impressed me besides Da'Rick Rogers were the aforementioned Nance, wideout Justin Hunter, juco tight end Mychal Rivera and offensive guards Zach Fulton and James Stone.

Nance throws a very pretty, very catchable ball. He showed excellent accuracy and touch on intermediate routes. I'd heard he was signed as a package deal to get Da'Rick Rogers. If so, that's a pretty nice package.

Hunter (6-4, 183) is a rangy guy in the mold of former Vol Chris Hannon ... only faster. Hunter and fellow rookie Matt Milton (6-5, 220) should be great red-zone receivers someday. Milton, who took part in spring ball, participated in the afternoon workout with the varsity.

Rivera looks bigger than 6-4 and 240. He showed some athleticism, running well and catching the ball well.

Fulton (6-5, 315) already looks like an SEC lineman. I wouldn't be surprised to see him starting by midseason. Stone (6-4, 295) moves well and appears exceptionally athletic.

James Bryant and I switched out in the afternoon workout for varsity guys - me observing the defense and James studying the offense.

I thought Marsalis Teague looked so good making the conversion from wideout to cornerback that I wrote and posted an entire story on him (see separate piece on Inside Tennessee).

Defensive tackle Marlon Walls looks bigger, which he confirmed after practice. He said he's gained 10 pounds since spring practice and now goes 6-3 and 273.

Montori Hughes, the other first-team D-tackle, looked a little trimmer. Sure enough, he's listed at 6-4 and 305, about seven pounds lighter than his spring weight.

Backup D-tackles Rae Sykes (6-4, 270) and Steven Fowlkes (6-5, 253) appear bigger than they were in the spring but still need more weight to withstand the rigors of the SEC.

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