UT in Hunt for S.C. D-lineman

One recruiting battle that has been largely fought under the radar is coming to light and revealing Tennessee as a legitimate contender for an exciting defensive line prospect.

Adam Patterson is a 6-foot-3, 255-pound trench talent from the Gamecock capital of Columbia, S.C., who could play at defensive end or tackle at the next level. As a junior at Richland Northeast High School Patterson had 61 stops with 11 tackles behind the line, six sacks and two forced fumbles.

Patterson not only hails from UT defensive coordinator's home state, he is John Chavis' type of player — quick off the ball with a full throttle motor, laudable lateral range and impressive power. He has outstanding upper body strength with 350-pound bench press that is nearly 100 pounds more than his body weight. He's also got plenty of spring in his lower body with a 525-pound squat and a 34-inch vertical leap. (To give you a basis of comparison, consider that Jai Eugene, the nation's No. 1 rated cornerback prospect, has a 33-inch vertical and is 80 pounds lighter than Patterson.)

In fact, Patterson is so athletic that he starts for the Northeast High School basketball team and competes in the freestyle event for the varsity swim team. Little wonder he has been offered by over 40 colleges including Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan and Virginia Tech.

However the early favorites for his services are North Carolina State, Penn State, South Carolina and Tennessee. He has taken unofficial visits to N.C. State, Penn State and Tennessee in addition to attending camp at South Carolina.

He recently told Scout.com's James Henderson that leaving South Carolina is a viable option which his family is fine with.

"They have no problem at all with me leaving South Carolina," Patterson said. "They know that wherever I go they can still be there. I still have to sit down and pick out all of my schools. It's open at this point. All of these schools are good and that's why it will be a tough decision on my part."

The Volunteers have had success in recruiting linemen from the Palmetto State including current players Eric Young and Tony McDaniel (also from Columbia) as well as former Vol and current Tennessee Titan starter Albert Haynesworth.

Patterson's high school team is currently carrying an 8-0 record and he'll probably wait until the season is finished before taking any official visits. Since Tennessee loses three of its starting four in the D-line, a future in Knoxville could be prosperous for Patterson.

"He is quite a physical specimen just to look at," Northeast head coach Jay Frye said. "His arms are huge and he is put together. And he's extremely quick off of the football. He is just a tremendous athlete, but he's just now learning the game. When he really learns how to cut loose and play every play as hard as he can play, he's going to be an unbelievable player. He's got a great attitude and he's a great kid."

Tennessee has made up a lot of ground to become a finalist for Patterson and there's still a lot of time left for the Vols to make a strong closing argument.

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