published Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Patterson, Rogers, Tennessee Vols work out for scouts

Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson works out for NFL scouts during pro day at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson works out for NFL scouts during pro day at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — It was just like old times at Tennessee on Wednesday.

The band of talented skill-position players was back together on the same field.

Every NFL team was in the house, including the head coach and offensive coordinator from one franchise, another's general manager and NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, to check out the Volunteers' pro day inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex.

"We had a lot of exposure out here," former Tennessee receiver Zach Rogers said.

Many eyes were on quarterback Tyler Bray and the receiver trio of Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, who was back at the school from which he was dismissed last August.

"I wanted to come back here to make sure I kept that window open and reconnect," said Rogers, the former Calhoun High School star who played at Tennessee Tech last season. "I wanted to work here. This a big platform [with] a lot of good players here and a lot of guys you played with and the quarterback played with, so it was a good scene."

New York Jets general manager John Izdik was present, as were Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator and former Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley, a day after meeting with Bray for dinner on Tuesday night.

One of the more intriguing prospects in a weak draft class at quarterback, Bray, now at 230 pounds after training in California since leaving Knoxville in December, said the process has been neither overly crazy nor relaxing.

He was in his element on Wednesday, surrounded by a familiar corps of wideouts and doing what he does best: throw the football.

"I've thrown Lord knows how many routes to these guys," he said, "so I could pretty much drop back with a blindfold on and know where they're going to be."

"It was too comfortable, man, getting back with your old buddies," added Patterson. "I ain't seen them in a long time. Playing with them and running with them, it just felt good, and I wish we could do it again."

Likely to be the first Vol off the board in April's draft, Patterson planned on running the 40-yard dash, but the 6-foot-2, 216-pounder decided it wasn't necessary after positing a 4.42-second time at the combine last month.

Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, the two prized recruits from Tennessee's 2010 signing class who only played two full games together as starters due to Hunter's injury in 2011 and Rogers' dismissal in 2012, talked each other into doing the vertical jump. After Hunter jumped 40.5 inches -- bettering his combine jump by an inch -- Rogers posted a 38-inch mark in the latest installment of the duo's friendly competition that dated back to their days in orange.

The 6-foot-4, 196-pounder Hunter then posted an impressive 11-foot, 6-inch mark in the broad jump, beating his combine jump by two inches.

"The plan was I wasn't going to jump," he said, "but I talked over there with Da'Rick. He wasn't going to jump, so I took it on myself to jump. I did pretty good in the vertical, but I really wanted to get the 11-6 today.

"We were in a little competition all day, just talking about old numbers and whatnot."

Hunter and Patterson have scheduled workouts with the Carolina Panthers in Knoxville on Thursday.

"They say I'm a special player," Patterson said of the feedback he's received from NFL personnel. "They say I'm raw or whatever, but I just try to go in and try to make sure they don't see the downside of me. The things they say I need to improve is route-running and all that, I just try to go in and get better at that so they can see that I'm an elite player."

The largest player at the pro day was ex-Tennessee defensive tackle Montori Hughes, who played the last two seasons at UT Martin after leaving the Vols nearly two years ago.

"Everything happens for a reason," the 338-pounder said. "I've matured a lot, I became a man and there's a lot of stuff I learned from Martin that I probably couldn't have learned from [here], but unfortunately I had to take that route. I did, and I feel like I've learned from it and it's helped me as a person.

"It's just growing up. When you're a kid, you say things you don't mean to say, but when you grow up as a man or as a woman, you understand how to do talk and how to do things and the different outlooks on things. I still have things to learn, but I still have come a long way."

The Murfreesboro native used Wednesday as another chance to impress NFL personnel with his athleticism and footwork after playing in the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic and the Senior Bowl in January and participating in last month's combine.

"I wouldn't say they forgot about me, but I'm coming out of a smaller school," Hughes said. "I feel like there's always a point to prove in anything I do, not just because I come from a small school. I feel like that's what kind of person I am."

Zach Rogers and Ben Bartholomew both helped themselves Wednesday. A 6-foot, 172-pound slot receiver, Rogers posted a 4.51-second 40 time and showed his precise route-running and pass-catching abilities during that drill. Bartholomew, the 6-foot-2, 252-pound tight end/fullback, bench-pressed 225 pounds an impressive 30 times and ran 4.68 seconds in the 40.

"I just wanted an opportunity," Rogers said. "I was kind of disappointed I didn't get to compete with those guys at the combine, but that's just how the cards fell that time. I had an opportunity today, and I tried to make the most of it.

"It was a lot of pressure. I was pretty nervous coming in, but at the end of the day, football's what I've been doing my whole life. It was just another day at the office."

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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