KENNEWICK -- With one play in last Saturday's game against the Colorado Ice, Dennis Rogan added another line to his Indoor Football League resume: Breakaway threat.
It was Rogan's 53-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter that helped the Tri-Cities Fever stave off the hard-charging Ice in a 48-42 victory.
It was his first return for a touchdown this season, and he ranks 10th in the IFL in kick return average at 20.4 a return.
This comes as no surprise to those who know him. After all, he broke some of Willie Gault's kickoff return records while at the University of Tennessee.
But on a smaller field, it's harder to succeed in returning kicks.
"The first thing you have to do is get to the spot where the ball is going," Rogan said. "After you get the ball you go where you're blockers are supposed to go and just find a hole."
It's that simple?
"I know it's not that simple," he said. "You've got to know your own speed and where the defensive guys are coming down the field."
Returning kicks helps Rogan get the joy out of running with the football.
He went to Tennessee as a highly recruited running back.
"I had some problems with the NCAA Clearinghouse and couldn't start with the team the following summer," he said. "I guess the coaches thought it would be an easier transition to defensive back, and I could play my freshman year."
Rogan enjoyed playing for Vols coordinator Monte Kiffin.
"He is so smart and full of energy," Rogan said. "He made it fun to work."
Kiffin's son, Lane, left Tennessee after Rogan's junior season for USC. The defensive back made the decision to declare early for the 2010 NFL draft, and he was one of a handful of juniors to be invited to the NFL Combine.
"I was coming off a pretty strong season, and I was ranked 16th coming out at cornerback," he said.
But he wasn't selected. Monte Kiffin helped Rogan sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.
Injuries, however, hampered Rogan during offseason camps. And before the main preseason camp began, he was released.
This is where Fever coach Adam Shackleford comes in.
"He is one of the first guys I sent out an e-mail to last summer," said Shackleford. "I kept after him until just before training camp opened (in February)."
By then, Rogan committed to the Fever.
"(Shackleford) showed the most interest in me," Rogan said. "I had a lot of other teams interested in me. But he stayed the most interested."
Rogan didn't disappoint, either, snaring three interceptions in his very first game of the season against the Arizona Adrenaline and being named the league's defensive player of the week.
But the 22-year-old also knew he made mistakes.
"I watched the game film and I saw things that I did wrong," he admitted. "I always want to do something to get better."
Shackleford liked that.
"He's a young man who is not overconfident," said Shackleford. "He comes in with the attitude of 'This is where I am at. What can I do to get better?'"
Shackleford said it's working.
"There's no doubt he's started to separate himself from being a great player to an all-league type of player," he said. "He's gonna be at the next level. I have already been told he's going to have AFL offers for next season."
That's fine. But Rogan is also interested in getting back outdoors.
"I'm definitely not ready to give up on the outdoor game," Rogan said. "I want to get there if I can. I don't dislike the indoor game."
In fact, he's learned a lot.
"Spacing for sure is different," Rogan said. "Everything happens quicker. And that's actually a plus, because it'll make me react faster outdoors. I look forward to going back to the outdoor game."
For now, though, Rogan will have to settle on being a marked man by IFL kickoff teams.
"And that's fine with me," he said.