Fanning the flames

Cordarrelle Patterson

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Adding Cordarrelle Patterson to a Tennessee receiving corps that already includes Justin Hunter and Da' Rick Rogers is kind of like adding gasoline to a raging fire.

Somebody's going to get burned ... like opposing secondaries.

Signed last week, Cordarrelle (pronounced Core-DARE-ull) has yet to run a route in practice or even enroll, yet his reputation has preceded him onto the campus. He was a two-time junior college All-American at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, where he set more than a dozen program records. These included career marks for receptions (113), receiving touchdowns (24), receiving yards (1,832), kickoff return average (41.9), total touchdowns (36) and all-purpose yards (3,379).

Rated a five-star prospect by the major recruiting services, he is ranked No. 1 among all JUCO recruits by one of them.

If Patterson is anywhere near the player he is projected to be, Southeastern Conference defensive coordinators could be guzzling Maalox this fall. Even Vol coaches have difficulty masking their enthusiasm regarding his potential.

"Cordarrelle Patterson ... you guys will know his name very well," Tennessee receivers coach Darin Hinshaw told the media this week. "He's an older guy, an All-American in junior college. The speed, size and strength we saw live and on film gives us a lot of excitement about what he can bring.... He plays like a little guy but he's huge."

Wide receivers coach Darin Hinshaw has plenty of talent to work with when preseason camp gets underway.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
Asked if the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Patterson more closely resembles Rogers or Hunter, Hinshaw replied: "Cordarrelle Patterson I'd say would be a combination of both of them. He's fast and quick (like Hunter) but has strength and size (like Rogers) that is very good."

That's scary, since Hunter and Rogers rank among the most gifted receivers in the history of a school once known as Wide Receiver U.

Rogers (6-3, 215) caught 67 passes for 1,040 yards last fall. Fellow sophomore Hunter (6-4, 200) was on his way to an even bigger season before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in the first quarter of Game 3 at Florida. Hinshaw recalls that the game plan against the Gators essentially was "to get him the ball and use him as a decoy to get other people the ball. When he went down that hurt us."

Hinshaw said Hunter is "farther along" than expected in his recovery, running and cutting quite well. The staff expects him to be available for non-contact work in spring practice and to be "the old Justin Hunter" by June.

Because Tennessee's offense unraveled following the loss of Hunter last fall, the Vols added Patterson and three high school receivers — Drae Bowles, Jason Croom and Alton Howard — in their 2012 signing class. The Big Orange also needs greater contributions from returnees Zach Rogers (14 catches in 2011) and Vincent Dallas (3 catches).

"They've got to continue to get better and more accountable and be ready to go play," Hinshaw said. "That's why depth at wide receiver is going to be so big for us."

Tennessee's wideout depth should be excellent in 2012, especially if Patterson's arrival pushes Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers to elevate their games to the extent that Hinshaw thinks it will.

"Once he steps foot on campus it automatically brings competition," the Vol aide said. "The level of receiver that we believe he is, and where he is, where he has worked to get to, we're going to put him in a situation that's going to create competition."

Patterson honed his skills at Northwestern High of Rock Hill, S.C., where he was a teammate of Vol quarterback Justin Worley in 2009. Even before he signed with the Big Orange, Worley suggested Tennessee coaches give his former go-to receiver a look.

"Yes, he did," Hinshaw recalled. "And his parents did also.

"When I was recruiting Justin Worley, Peyton Worley came up to me and said, 'There's a receiver out in Hutchinson, Kansas, that's really good.'

"I said, 'Are you talking about Cordarrelle Patterson?'

"He said, 'Yeah.'

"I said, 'Yeah, he's pretty darned good. We're on him.'

"He said, 'OK, I was just making sure.'"

Da'Rick Rogers

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