One of the most dynamic playmakers in this year's recruiting class decided he wanted to catch passes in Knoxville for the next year or two.
Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson surprisingly chose the Vols over Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and Auburn, giving UT another offensive weapon to go along with Justin Hunter, Da'Rick Rogers and Tyler Bray. Patterson is a five-star player, according to 247 Sports and Scout, and he is widely considered by all recruiting services to be the top-ranked junior college player in the country.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound playmaker had offers from virtually anybody, chiefly because he is a threat to score every time he gets his hands on the ball. His size-speed combo is out of this world, as he has a compact frame but still sports a 40-time in the 4.4s. Though the Vols took a lump in the past week with the defection of longtime linebacker commitments Dalton Santos to Texas and Otha Peters to Arkansas, getting a player of Patterson's caliber softens the blow.
He will immediately step in and play from Day One, giving UT another downfield threat to go along with Hunter and allowing Rogers to slide back into the slot, where he can go across the middle and use his big body to make the tough catch-and-run.
Patterson's journey to being a Tennessee commitment came full-circle with his signing on the dotted line Wednesday. UT was one of the first schools to offer him and figured to have a major early advantage because Patterson's former teammate and high school quarterback Justin Worley was already in orange and white. Every time any service did an update on him, the Vols were prominently mentioned by the quiet, easy-going kid who played recruiting very close to the vest the whole way.
But then came the disappointing 5-7 season, one in which the redshirt was stripped from Worley prematurely and he played sparingly and not particularly well. Following a season-ending loss to Kentucky, UT had a mutual parting of ways with Patterson's position coach Charlie Baggett.
All of a sudden, Tennessee wasn't mentioned as much anymore. UT began taking a back seat to several schools, chiefly Georgia -- the new favorite -- and Auburn with dynamic recruiter Trooper Taylor. Then, Patterson took late visits to LSU and Ole Miss, very much enjoying each one. At one point last week, all five SEC schools felt they had legitimate chances to land him on National Signing Day.
Throughout, Vols wide receivers coach and emerging recruiting ace Darin Hinshaw continued to recruit Patterson, having multiple discussions with the star player. That relationship kept growing, and the Vols quietly worked their way back into the fray. Patterson went from the first player Hinshaw called on last year's National Signing Day to the first new name to sign with the Vols on this year's.
Patterson's JUCO numbers were off the hook this year. He finished with 61 catches for 924 yards and 13 receiving touchdowns, three kick return touchdowns, 390 rushing yards and another six rushing TDs on his way to his second consecutive JUCO All-American campaign.
The defensive losses hurt, but it's obvious that with Patterson, UT is just going to simply outscore everybody. The top three receivers in Knoxville next year will rival anybody else's top three in the country. Also, four-star pass-catchers Drae Bowles, Jason Croom and Alton "Pig" Howard are also on their way to Knoxville with South Carolina's Quinshad Davis still on the board and a possibility to sign with Tennessee today.
In other early morning Signing Day news, Virginia defensive tackle Korren Kirven spurned homestate Virginia Tech and the Vols to sign with national champion Alabama.
But we'll certainly take Patterson, perhaps one of the top five playmakers in the entire class. Welcome to Big Orange Country!