Patterson ready to make impact?

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Cordarrelle Patterson may be the most highly anticipated Tennessee Volunteers signee in decades, but with the suspension of All-SEC wideout Da'Rick Rogers, he just became vital to the 2012 season.

Patterson, a 6-foot-3, 205 pounder, is a former two-time NJCAA All-American at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College, but it won't be easy to replace Rogers' SEC-leading 1,040 yards receiving in 2011.

"He's got the size, the speed, the ball skills, and the competitive character," coach Derek Dooley said of the Vols' newest weapon. "Our biggest challenge is helping him play fast by knowing what to do and how to react. He has never been in this environment so there are going to be some growing pains."

The former five-star prospect acknowledges a significant speed difference in the Southeastern Conference that could pose a challenge when the Vols open up their SEC schedule with division rival Florida. However, while things may have changed at the next level, he is enjoying every minute.

"It is better here," Patterson said. "In Kansas there wasn't anything and everything was slow. Everything here is better. The first couple days it was just so much going at me. I didn't understand a lot. Coach (Darin) Hinshaw was just teaching me day by day, just told me to focus in and how to understand. Now I understand that and I am learning everything."

It has been Hinshaw, Patterson's lead recruiter, who has been vital in bringing Tyler Bray's newest target up to speed in offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's offense.

"Coach Hinshaw he would pull me to the side after meetings and stuff and we would stay an extra 35 minutes just trying to learn it," he said. "In the morning we would try to pick up something real fast so I could get the offense down pat."

The wide receivers coach has begun to notice a difference in Patterson's knowledge of the playbook that will be vital to immediate contributions when the Vols open the 2012 season in the Georgia Dome Aug. 31 with N.C. State. "His understanding of the offense has gotten a lot better," Hinshaw said. "It's always tough (choosing players). Obviously, he is an older newcomer, coming in as a junior, but he has more maturity and he's learning at a higher rate. He understands football really well."

Patterson set more than a dozen records during his time as a Blue Dragon, including career receiving yards (1,832), career receptions (113), career receiving touchdowns (24), career total touchdowns (36), career points (216), career kickoff return average (41.9) and career all-purpose yards (3,379).

Listed as the No. 2 wide receiver behind Justin Hunter, Patterson finished his sophomore season in Kansas with 61 catches for 924 yards and 15 touchdowns, but that won't be enough to the empy shoes left by Rogers. The question now becomes, how big of an impact can Patterson make for the Orange & White?

Chris Price is a staff writer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously an intern for the site for two years before graduating from the University of Tennessee. He joined the InsideTennessee team in 2009.

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