KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson already handles pressure with poise. Imagine how much better he will be once he has a better understanding of all his pass routes.
Patterson, a transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, delivered one of the best debut performances of any major-college newcomer in the first week of the season. He scored on a 41-yard catch and a 67-yard run in the first quarter of Tennessee's 35-21 victory over North Carolina State on Friday at the Georgia Dome.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said afterward that he wasn't even sure Patterson ran the right route on the 41-yard touchdown in which he beat All-America cornerback David Amerson. Patterson acknowledged Monday that he still must improve his route running and his reading of coverages.
"There are mistakes I see that I can fix," Patterson said.
He already has fixed one of Tennessee's biggest dilemmas.
Tennessee needed someone to replace all-Southeastern Conference receiver Da'Rick Rogers, who transferred to Tennessee Tech last week after getting indefinitely suspended. Patterson replaced Rogers in the starting lineup and immediately backed up the acclaim that accompanied his arrival on campus. His 165 all-purpose yards against North Carolina State didn't surprise the people who'd seen him before.
"I know the SEC is the SEC, but he's that type of guy," Hutchinson coach Rion Rhoades said. "He's very gifted. He loves to play the game. I really wasn't surprised with him hitting the ground running right off the bat."
Patterson set Hutchinson career records in receptions (113), receiving yards (1,832), touchdown catches (24), total touchdowns (36), points (216) and all-purpose yards (3,379). Recruiting services ranked him among the top junior-college prospects in the nation.
His preseason performance added to the sense of optimism that he could contribute immediately, but the boom-and-bust nature of junior-college recruits invited skepticism.
Kenny O'Neal had a similar rating in 2007 when he signed with Tennessee out of City College of San Francisco. O'Neal caught only two passes for 59 yards before encountering academic problems and transferring.
Patterson already has shown he's no O'Neal.
Now he has a chance to develop into the next great pass-catcher at a school once known as Wide Receiver U. Six Tennessee wide receivers were chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft from 1982-91, but Robert Meachem is the only All-America wideout the Vols have produced over the last 20 seasons. Patterson and junior Justin Hunter give the Vols two receivers with star potential.
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