Move to Tennessee Tech takes Da'Rick Rogers off NFL radar

Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 8:04pm

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Passed over in the NFL draft, Tennessee Tech receiver Da'Rick Rogers can finally begin putting his troubled college career behind him after agreeing to sign with the Buffalo Bills.

Rogers' agent Joby Branion, on Sunday, confirmed his client agreed to terms with the Bills. The player announced the news a day earlier by writing, "I'm a Buffalo Bill," on his Twitter account.

He becomes the latest play-making addition to what is becoming a young, retooled offense under rookie head coach Doug Marrone.

The Bills opened the draft by selecting Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel with the 16th pick. They then selected two more receivers: Southern California's Robert Woods (41st overall) and Texas speedster Marquise Goodwin (78th).

Aside from Rogers, the Bills also reached deals with two more undrafted rookie free agents. Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel and Eastern Washington receiver Brandon Kaufman agreed to sign with Buffalo, the players' agent, Cameron Foster, said.

The Bills have a policy of not announcing moves until a player is signed.

Rogers is regarded as an intriguing addition. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, he had been projected to be an early to mid-round pick, and had been ranked 11th among draft-eligible receivers by NFL.com.

His stock, however, dropped because of off-the-field issues during his first two seasons at Tennessee.

In August, Rogers transferred to Tennessee Tech shortly after being suspended indefinitely by the Volunteers for violating team rules. Rogers said multiple failed drug tests prompted his move to the Football Championship Subdivision.

Rogers also had a troubled start to his college career. He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest before his freshman season.

A high school star from Calhoun, Ga., Rogers did make an impact when given the opportunity to play. A first-time starter as a sophomore, Rogers led the Volunteers with 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.

Last year, Rogers had 893 yards receiving and tied a Tennessee Tech single-season record with 10 touchdown catches.

An NFL pre-draft scouting report praised Rogers for being "a physical specimen with strong hands, who overpowered defenders." But it also noted his "off-field maturity," and knocked him for not being "a very instinctual receiver."

Rogers has not shied from discussing his past. Earlier this month, he described his departure from Tennessee as being both "a wake-up call," and something that "humbled" him.

It was also a message he delivered to NFL teams during the scouting process.

"I go in and tell them I'm not here to defend that bio," Rogers said. "Everything you have, that's true. That's the real deal. I'm willing to change that. Here's what I've done."

The Bills were interested in Rogers, who was one of 30 draft-eligible players Buffalo invited to visit the team's facility and meet with coaches this month.

"He had that ding at Tennessee, as we all know," Bills director of college scouting Chuck Cook said, referring to Rogers two weeks ago. "We've been tracking him and doing our due diligence with his intangibles, and we've come to a decision and we'll stack him on the board the way he fits in our wide receiver group."

• Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers and cornerback Trey Wilson both signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rodgers completed 59.9 percent of his passes, threw 15 touchdowns and just five interceptions last fall. Wilson had three interceptions and eight pass breakups.

Defensive tackle Rob Lohr signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and punter Richard Kent agreed to a deal with the San Diego Chargers. Lohr had two sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Kent finished 10th in the country with 44.9 yards a punt.

• For Middle Tennessee State, running back Benny Cunningham signed with the St. Louis Rams. The Goodpasture grad played in just five games his senior year due to injury but rushed for 600 yards and 11 touchdowns. Safety Jajuan Harley signed with the Seattle Seahawks. He finished third on the team in 2012 with 74 tackles in addition to three interceptions.

• Tennessee State also had two area products — a pair of All-Ohio Valley Conference offensive linemen — sign free agent deals. Left tackle Rogers Gaines, a White House grad, joined the Baltimore Ravens. The San Francisco 49ers agreed to a deal with center Sherman Carter from LaVergne.

As of Sunday afternoon, running back Trabis Ward, who opted not to return for his senior year, had not signed with a team.

Rookie workouts begin for many NFL teams this week.