ATLANTA On Feb. 1, 2012, Cordarrelle Patterson, a five-star wide receiver from Hutchinson Community College, chose to sign with Tennessee over Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, Florida and Nebraska.
At the time, the Vols had Justin Hunter and DaRick Rogers on the roster arguably, the top two receivers in the Southeastern Conference. Rather than shy away from the competition, Patterson went toward it.
Watching those two guys made me want to come here and be with those guys and compete, Patterson told the Times Free Press.
Patterson gave the Vols reason for excitement upon signing with them. He was a two-time JUCO All-American, and Hutchinson and set 13 school records with him.
His teammates didnt hold back the praise during SEC media days this summer.
Quarterback Tyler Bray described Patterson as a mix between Justin and DaRick, adding, Its kinda hard to compete with those guys. Linebacker Herman Lathers said, Ill take them on my team any day.
With the recent departure of Rogers, who was suspended indefinitely by coach Derek Dooley and chose to transfer to Tennessee Tech, and Hunter returning from ACL surgery, Pattersons role will be significantly bigger anyone might have thought.
That seems to have cooled Dooleys mood.
Well Im sure everybody probably has greater expectations on Patterson than I have because my experience has been, when a guy plays in his first college football game not to expect anything beyond something thats typical of a freshman, Dooley said.
Theres gonna be a lot of growing pains to kinda ease him into this game. The speed of the game is gonna be different, the tempo, the environment, everythings different. And thats gonna show up in game one. So the important thing that we have to do is stay patient, and make sure that he stays calm through all this and hes able to perform to the best of his abilities.
Dooley was also concerned about North Carolina States veteran secondary picking apart his young offense.
What those guys do best is make you pay for any mistakes, whether its a poor route, whether its an inaccurate football, a bobbled ball, whatever it is, theyre gonna make you pay, Dooley said. And theres nothing more important than turnovers in these kind of games.
Dooley has a lot to be excited about this season with his offense, so its possible he is simply playing it cool. He mentioned learning a lot from last season when the Volunteers spanked Cincinnati in what could have been the starting point to a great season. Instead, Tennessee limped to the finish line.
This season, Dooley doesnt want to make the same mistakes. He has improved the depth of his team Patterson being the prime example so his season cant be derailed by personnel issues.
Now, he finally has a chance to make some noise this season with his high powered offense. But we and perhaps Dooley will all find out what that offense is capable of when they begin the season in the Georgia Dome on Friday.