December 2, 2008

Dynamic Rogers prepares for Kiffin visit

On Sunday night, Zach Rogers received a brief phone call from new Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin.

Today Rogers, one of the state of Tennessee's top prospects after a stellar career at Nashville's David Lipscomb High School, will welcome Kiffin to his school for his first face-to-face meeting with the Vols' newly-introduced 33-year-old coach.

"Coach Kiffin called me Sunday, we talked briefly," said the versatile Rogers. "He was in a hurry, said he wanted to call me and come in contact with all the committed guys. He's coming by school (today). I'm looking forward to that."

Rogers already has gotten an advance scouting report on Kiffin from his brother, rising senior Vols wideout Austin Rogers.

"Austin said he likes him, said he hadn't been around much because he's hitting the road recruiting, recruiting pretty hard. The first impressions are good from what I hear."

Kiffin's comments in his introductory press conference Monday about locking down the state's top prospects were welcome news to Rogers, whose Mustangs captured the 2007 Class 3A state championship and fell last week in the semifinals in an overtime heartbreaker.

"That was very reassuring because we weren't sure what his standpoint would be on current committed guys," said Rogers, who played running back, wideout, defensive back and punter this season for Lipscomb. "There's a lot of talent in state, you've got Marlon Brown, Marsalous Teague, Eric Gordon, just a bunch of guys that it would be nice to see in orange. I'm really glad coach Kiffin recognizes that and those are outstanding athletes I would think could make a huge impact next year because of their athletic ability."

Rogers simply was too modest to list his own athletic ability in that same conversation. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder all-purpose player saw his spectacular senior season punctuated Monday as he was named Tennessee Class 3A Mr. Football in the Backs Division. Rogers through his team's first 11 games averaged 23 yards per reception and rushed for nearly 600 yards on just 33 carries for the powerful Mustangs. He added a dozen touchdowns through 11 games and punted for a 33.8-yard average.

But Rogers focused Monday on aiding Kiffin's promise to "lock down" the state's recruiting borders.

"Oh yeah, I was doing some recruiting and trying to persuade them. Try to help keep a positive mindset with them because they all liked coach (Phillip) Fulmer and to see him go it weighed a little bit on which way they were coming. Coach Kiffin is a great coach and great recruiter. Marsalous had already talked to him, Marlon's already been in contact with him. I'm playing in the East-West All-Star game next week with Eric. I'm sure I'll talk more about it next week, try to get him thinking orange."

Despite the conflicting emotions of the last week from the low of Friday's playoff loss to the high of Monday's Mr. Football announcement, Rogers knows he's had a memorable high school run.

"It's been great. We had a great group of seniors leading the team, playing all my high school years with those guys," he said. "It's been a real blessing. We won state last year. We got our goal, but we wanted to come back this year and try to repeat. Unfortunately it didn't go that way. I think we went out with class and left a lot of great memories as a Mustang."

Now Rogers, a record-setting track sprinter who also may jump back onto the baseball diamond for his senior season, already is training for his future as a Vol, when he'll play alongside his brother for a season.

"I'm going to work, hitting the weight room. I'm going to try to get bigger, stronger and faster for next year and hopefully come in and have some kind of role," he said. "I hope to see the field, whether it's on special teams, offense, defense, whatever coach feels I can do for the team."

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