Different Paths to Indy

Robert Woods

They were two of the nation's very best players in the 2010 recruiting class but wide receivers Robert Woods and Da'Rick Rogers took two totally different paths to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis, Ind.- Robert Woods and Da'Rick Rogers are right where they are supposed to be here at the NFL Combine.

After all, they were both considered two of the top wide receiver prospects in the nation when they came out from the high school ranks in the Class of 2010. Woods, ranked No. 1 in the country signed with USC. Rogers, rated No.4, signed with Tennessee.

But after they arrived on their respective campuses in Los Angeles and Knoxville respectively they took two totally different paths on their way to Indy.

For Woods, he shined as a Trojan from the moment he stepped on campus. As a true freshman he caught 65 passes for 792 yards and six scores. Then he exploded as a sophomore with a sensational season, grabbing 111 passes for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns. With the emergence of a super star in wide receiver Marquise Lee at USC this past season, his numbers fell somewhat. Yet he still hauled in 76 receptions for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Now Woods is set to be one of the top wide receivers selected in the NFL Draft at the end of April.

"I am training now with Cordarrelle [Patterson] and one day I just said wow this is now my job,"said Woods in front of the NFL media. "It's an honor to do this and to get paid to do it. I want to put in the extra work. It's what I love. I love the game of football."

For Rogers things were entirely different. First, Rogers had a tumultuous recruiting process. He committed to the Georgia Bulldogs but signed with the University of Tennessee. It was a fire storm in northern Georgia.

He arrived on the Volunteers campus with fellow bluechip recruit Justin Hunter. The two were supposed to come in and be major contributors as true freshmen. That first season he played in all 13 games but only managed 11 receptions for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Rogers had a much better sophomore campaign, catching 67 passes for 1,040 yards with nine touchdowns.

During his first two years with the Vols Rogers was in and out of trouble away from the field. He was eventually dismissed from the team for positive drug tests. Rogers then moved on to Tennessee Tech, where he caught 61 passes for 893 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.

"What happened at Tennessee was simple, it was just immaturity on my part," Rogers said. "I didn't do the right things. I play with an edge and I didn't control that off the field. I had some bad flaws. But what happened at Tennessee is all behind me. It was my responsibility and I take full ownership in what I did.

"I still consider myself a Vol for life. But I also love the Golden Eagles. They gave me a second chance. They accepted me."

Now, Rogers has to answer the questions.

"I am here to do that," Rogers said. "I have nothing to hide. I will show the NFL the real me."

These two wideouts have immense ability. Woods, 6-foot-1 and 190-pounds, has been productive, consistent and comes across as a very polished player and person.

"I think I have a lot of experience from playing in college for three years," Woods said. "I have a good knowledge of the game, can play every wide receiver position, and have good hands, speed and route running ability."

Rogers, 6-foot-3 and 210-pounds, is a freaky good athlete that has battled inconsistencies at the position. But he played well in last seasons at Tennessee and against lesser competition at Tennessee Tech. There's no question Rogers has can be one of the elite receivers from this draft but he will really have to prove to the NFL that the past is strictly in the past.

"I know I have the physical ability," Rogers said. "But at this point I just want a chance. I just want to get my foot in the door [with the NFL]. I have a blessing from God and I am not going to mess that up."

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