Big debut opens doors

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With First Team All-SEC wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers out the door, it looked as though second teamer Justin Hunter would grab all the attention in 2012, from defensive backs that is.

However, just over a week after Rogers's departure opposing defenses have a lot more to think about than Hunter. Enter five-star junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson and there is a whole new wrinkle to the Tennessee Volunteers offense.

Patterson scored his first touchdown on his second catch, a 41-yard streak down the sideline blowing past All-American cornerback David Amerson. A few plays later he rattled off the longest running play by a Vol since 2007. It was a 67-yard touchdown by the way.

"I didn't envision this," Patterson said of his debut. "I just came out here and made sure I caught the ball and the touchdowns came. It just felt so good being out there with the team. I am just blessed."

Then wouldn't you know it, with all the attention on Patterson coming out of the half Justin Hunter racks up most of his nine catches for 73 yards in the second half. With someone to offset his skills on film, Hunter says things could really open up for him this season.

"He's got a great chance to be one of the best in the league," Hunter said Friday night. "As you saw tonight, he played a great game. Hopefully, this will lead to me not being double-teamed.

"I think we lost a guy, but we still have a good guy to come fill in for him. I think people won't double me, but they are going to have to worry about him now after tonight."

Hunter, who had several uncharacteristic drops in the contest, needed a quick pep talk from junior quarterback Tyler Bray on the sidelines to get settled down before putting his stamp on the Vols game in the Georgia Dome.

"Sometimes (Hunter) tries to do too much," Bray said. "I mean, there's a lot going on around him, and (Patterson) had a great game so you knew that Justin was going to go out there and try to make plays. I talked to him on the sidelines, and I tried to calm him down. It worked for him."

Moving forward, the junior wide out has all confidence he will be making big plays right alongside Patterson in 2012.

"I dropped the easy ones and caught the hard ones, but I think that is all going to pass after this week," Hunter said. "I am going to work harder, focus on the ball and start catching them."

Saturday the Vols will open their home schedule with a virtual scrimmage against Georgia State, who got manhandled by South Carolina State 33-6 in week one. Then it's time to square off with division rival Florida Sept. 15 in Neyland Stadium.

See what Justin Hunter had to say about being back on the game field for the first time since Sept. 2011 in this video from InsideTennessee:

Watch as quarterback Tyler Bray addressed the media following Friday's victory over NC State:

Chris Price is a staff writer for 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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