Cordarrelle Patterson arrives to lofty expectations

photo Cordarrelle Patterson

KNOXVILLE -- The waiting is over.

Part of it, at least.

Second-session summer classes begin today at the University of Tennessee, and the final three recruits from the Volunteers' 2012 signing class arrived on campus earlier this week. Freshmen Quenshaun Watson and Davante Bourque now officially enter the tailback competition.

Most of the attention, though, was elsewhere.

Cordarrelle Patterson, the blue-chip receiver from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, was admitted to UT on Monday after wrapping up his junior college classes last week. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder was the crown jewel of the Vols' recruiting class and the last of the 21 signees to arrive.

No other recruit arrives with more expectations.

"The expectations are too high," coach Derek Dooley said earlier this summer. "They are for everybody on our team. But that's OK; he's got to learn to manage that."

With Patterson present, UT's plans of a dynamic trio of playmaking receivers officially can continue. Along with juniors Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, Patterson gives the Vols three big athletic targets for quarterback Tyler Bray.

Patterson proved his physical talents with Hutchinson's track team this spring, recording a 10.33-second 100-meter dash time and a long jump of nearly 22 feet. In football last fall, he ran for 390 yards and six touchdowns on 32 carries, caught 61 passes for 924 yards and 15 scores and averaged 51 yards on 10 kickoff returns with three touchdowns.

"You always have high expectations that you want them to come in and contribute some way," said receivers coach Darin Hinshaw, who was Patterson's primary recruiter. "How can we do that? Well, we've got to learn the offense first. We've got to learn what we're doing and be able to play and then work on technique and understanding that. There's a learning curve that has to happen."

Hinshaw said he "100 percent" expects Patterson to handle that process.

"He's very, very smart," Hinshaw said. "He understands the game really well, and when he gets here, the competition's going to go through the roof. That's what we want."

Adjusting to college football and the Southeastern Conference in particular is an inexact science, though. The Vols signed three other receivers -- Drae Bowles, Alton "Pig" Howard and Jason Croom -- who arrived on campus in June. Croom and Howard have been physically impressive in summer workouts, and Howard has worked some at tailback, according to a source inside the program.

UT last signed a junior college receiver in 2007 with Kenny O'Neal, but he caught just two passes, missed the Vols' bowl game due to academics and transferred away in the spring of 2008.

The Vols were so thin at the position this spring that walk-on Jacob Carter might have been the unit's standout performer. With sophomore Vincent Dallas working with the secondary some this summer, only senior Zach Rogers and junior Naz Oliver are not first-year receivers. Among the four summer arrivals and early enrollee Cody Blanc, the Vols need some to step in quickly.

"We have four freshmen coming in, and we're going to need a couple of them to help us," Dooley said. "I don't know who two of the four are going to be, but we're going to need them. We can't make them develop faster than what they're ready for, so we just wait and see.

"Da'Rick and Justin didn't give us much their first year. They did some nice things in a backup role, and those two guys are really talented football players. To think a guy's going to come in and light it up, I'm not sure, what's the precedent? How many of those guys have done that? We just expect the best of everything."

Said Hunter: "We're going to be deep. Cordarrelle is just like me and Da'Rick: fast, strong, quick. I think we're going to have a lot of explosive people."