Not everyone has to be that explosive playmaker to make a difference on a football team, even in a big Division-I conference such as the SEC. That is the case for Tennessee Vols junior wide receiver Zach Rogers.
The Nashville, Tenn., native has, through the Vols’ first seven games, caught eight passes for 116 yards and one touchdown, which resulted in a 45-23 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats. It was the second touchdown of his career.
 However, so far in a season in which many unexpected injuries and even a dismissal from the program have plagued the Vols, who are 3-4 overall and 0-4 in conference play, Rogers has had to step up and assume a leadership role quickly. He had nearly no choice, as the team on the offensive side of the ball is one of the youngest in all the NCAA, with all but four current starters being sophomores or freshmen. Despite the lack of experience, Rogers and his teammates remain hopeful and emphasize that the season has not been lost.
“We are trying to win out and go to a great bowl game,” Rogers said. “We just have to come together as a unit and keep the team together. It could easily fall apart and finger-pointing could be an issue when teams are not doing well, but that is not at all what is going on. We are still sticking together and moving forward.”
One player in particular that has benefited from Rogers’ leadership is sophomore Rajion Neal, who has been converted this season from tailback to receiver and has been a dual threat for the Vols, rushing for 55 yards and tallying 53 receiving yards.
“Zach has been a big part of studying with me in the film room and going over the route concepts and practice scripts,” Neal said. “He has been a great help, because he knows every wide receiver position and he can be placed at any role at any time. He is not a big talker but he speaks when needed and speaks at the right time, definitely when stuff is going wrong he is there to help us.”
But just like any other player, Zach had a role model of his own growing up and has learned a lot from his big brother Austin Rogers, who had a very impressive four-year career at UT from 2005-08, hauling in 76 receptions for 891 yards and four touchdowns.
“He taught me a lot about the game, and he still plays a big role in my progression,” Rogers said. “We still talk every day on the phone and he always has advice to give me.”
His older brother is not the only one who has played a major role in his life; his family as a whole has as well.
“Family plays a huge role in my life,” he said. “I talk to them every day and they keep my mind focused and I have got someone to count on.”
As for off the field, Rogers is majoring in logistics and hopes to one day go into a trucking company or a train company back home.
“By the time I’m done with my college career, I want to be remembered as a hard worker and someone who loved his team and loved the university,” Rogers said.