KNOXVILLE - Darin Hinshaw tapped his temple with his right index finger.
Tennessee's receivers coach used the simple gesture to locate where the next step is for touted newcomer Cordarrelle Patterson.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior college transfer undoubtedly has the natural tools as he's shown gliding effortlessly around the Volunteers' practices for nearly a week, but becoming as comfortable mentally as he is physically is the next crucial step in his development.
"This kid's potential is through the roof," Hinshaw said after Wednesday morning's practice, "and we've got to get him right up here understanding how to do everything."
Most of practice is closed to the media, but players have put Patterson at the same talent level as fellow wideouts Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter. They say he's been as advertised, and he's been the Vols' third receiver during open periods of workouts. A potential kickoff returner as well, the dreadlocked Patterson has been what UT expected he'd be.
"He's that big, athletic, fast kid that we thought," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. "There's been nothing he's done to disappoint. We knew him pretty well, and he's about right where we thought he'd be - a big fast kid that can make some plays."
Hinshaw, Patterson's primary recruiter, said during spring practice he wasn't concerned about Patterson struggling to learn his role in UT's offense.
"We've thrown a ton at him," Hinshaw said. "In that learning curve, there needs to go from 'Play, think about the play, react,' to 'Here's the play, react,' or 'Here's the play, this is what I do and go.' Master the play, then let's go to the next.
"That's when he's going to start playing fast, and when you play fast, that's when you do explosive things."
That other receiver
Chaney said Justin Hunter had a "wonderful" summer as the junior completed his recovery from his ACL injury. Hunter cleared a mental hurdle on his knee during spring practice, and he's looked like himself early in training camp. Chaney still wants to see more.
"I think the confidence is there on his leg," he said. "I've seen some catches that remind you on Justin. He needs to push through those last 20 practices."
Hunter said last week he believes he's actually a better receiver after his injury.
"I can tell you right now, I never thought that was going to be happening for me," he said. "Through the process, I've known that if I keep my head on straight and focused, I'd be good. I know I have to [prove myself]."
Other juco transfer
Nose tackle Daniel McCullers showed up in June without too much bad weight, and his 6-7, 377-pound frame is easy to spot on UT's practice field. He moves fairly well for someone his size, and he won't need much lateral quickness in his run-plugging role. The transition from junior college is never an easy one, though.
"I have a very positive early impression of Dan because I think he worked his [butt] off," defensive line coach John Palermo said. "He's lost 30 pounds since last spring. He's come in and worked hard.
"Does he have a lot of work to do? Yeah, but he's making progress. He just needs to continue to work on keeping his pad level down and playing hard every snap."
Bray day in court
Quarterback Tyler Bray reached an agreement in Loudon County court following a citation for a July 4 boating incident, according to a Knoxville News Sentinel report. According to a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer, Bray was "hot dogging" on a jet ski with a female passenger, driving closer than the legal 100 feet to another jet ski and splashing the passengers of the other jet ski when it had overturned.
The junior was wearing a life jacket, and there was no alcohol involved. The TWRA agent said Bray was "polite and nice" when he encountered them, according to the report. Bray must promote boater safety at three local schools or in a public-service television commercial, lost his boat-driving rights for a year and must pay court costs.
Freshman tailback Davante Bourque (neck) missed his third straight day of practice, and Kenny Bynum, a 246-pound inside linebacker, was on crutches during Wednesday's practice.