Patterson Improves UT Passing Game
By Matthew Osborne
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Even if his transition into stardom takes longer than expected, Cordarrelle Patterson’s mere presence in the lineup takes Tennessee’s passing offense from good to great.
Simply put, the Derek Dooley era at Tennessee has been an extremely disappointing time period for Volunteer fans.
Dooley, who is the son of SEC coaching legend Vince Dooley, was hired as the head man in Knoxville in January of 2010 following a three-year stint at Louisiana Tech, where he compiled a lackluster 17-20 record. His first two seasons in college football’s premiere conference have fared little better, as Dooley is currently 11-14 at Tennessee.
Despite the struggles on the playing field, the Volunteers have been able to build a very strong passing attack under the direction of their current head coach.
Tyler Bray is a consensus top five quarterback prospect for the NFL Draft, while wide receivers Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers are both considered to be top 10 prospects on the perimeter.
With Bray and Hunter fully recovered from injuries which derailed their 2011 campaigns, Tennessee looks to have a strong foundation for what should be a dangerous aerial attack this fall.
While Tennessee’s version of the “Big Three” would certainly be enough to cause some sleepless nights for SEC defensive coordinators, the Volunteers had been concerned about the overall lack of depth they possessed at the receiver position. Hunter and Rogers combine to arguably give the Volunteers the best one-two punch in the nation at wide receiver, but Tennessee desperately needed a third receiver to emerge as a viable threat in the passing game, alleviating much of the pressure from their star wide outs.
Fortunately for Coach Dooley and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, the Vols believe they have found that third dynamic playmaker at receiver: Cordarrelle Patterson.
A junior college transfer and the star of Tennessee’s 2012 recruiting class, Patterson arrives in Knoxville with lofty expectations. Fair or unfair, the incoming five-star prospect will be expected to emulate the production of his counterparts at wide receiver this fall.
As is typically the case, Patterson enters his first season of FBS football with tremendous expectations for good reason. Last fall, as a standout for Hutchinson Community College’s football and track and field teams, Patterson accounted for more than 1,300 yards of total offense and 24 scores on the gridiron, while posting a mark of 10.33 seconds in the 100-meter dash on the track.
To be clear, 10.33 seconds is the 100-meter dash is fast; 10.33 seconds in the 100-meter dash for a guy who measures in at six-foot-four, 202 pounds is downright scary.
To put his athletic prowess into context, Tennessee receivers coach Darin Hinshaw describes Patterson’s skill set as Hunter’s speed and quickness mixed with Rogers’ strength and size. That is glowing praise for any receiver; much less a receiver who has yet to play a single snap of meaningful FBS football.
In all honesty, the expectations for Patterson are probably too high at this point. Tennessee already has one of the best receiving corps in the country, and the fact that Patterson will still have to adjust to the level of competition cannot be undervalued.
In the end, though, Tennessee does not need Patterson to be a superstar statistically. There are only so many completions to go around, and you can rest assured that Rogers and Hunter will both be fed a steady diet of footballs if healthy.
Patterson undoubtedly has the potential to become an exceptional SEC receiver. You simply cannot teach someone to possess his outstanding combination of size, speed and quickness, and it is likely that he will cause immediate match-up problems on the perimeter this fall.
Even if his transition into stardom takes longer than expected, however, Patterson’s mere presence in the lineup takes Tennessee’s passing offense from good to great.