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Juco WR Patterson Arrives At UT With Big Expectations

Cordarrelle Patterson was the top junior college receiver in the nation last year.  On Monday, he officially enrolled at the University of Tennessee.  But while many Vol fans are already dreaming of a pass-catching trio consisting of Justin Hunter (extremely talented, if 100% after knee surgery), Da’rick Rogers (talented, if focused) and Patterson… Patterson’s new coach wants to temper the excitement a bit.

According to Derek Dooley:


“The expectations are too high.  They are for everybody on our team.  But that’s okay; he’s got to learn to manage that.”


His position coach Darrin Hinshaw also cautions against over-hyping Patterson:


“You always have high expectations that you want them to come in and contribute some way.  How can we do that?  Well, we’ve got to learn the offense first.  We’ve got to learn what we’re doing and be able to play and then work on technique and understanding that.  There’s a learning curve that has to happen…

He’s very, very smart.  He understands the game really well, and when he gets here, the competition’s going to go through the roof.  That’s what we want.”


What any school wants when they ink a top juco prospect is the next Cam Newton or the next Terrence Cody — a player who can make an immediate impact on a team’s record just as soon as he steps foot on the playing field.  Unfortunately, the list of juco signees who disappoint is a heckuva lot longer than the very short list of game-changers who arrive on campus via that route.

So will Patterson be the star UT fans hope?  Or will he be another juco receiver — like former hyped Vol juco signee Kenny O’Neal — who enters and exits without making an impact?  (O’Neal caught two passes for the Volunteers during his career.)  The jury on Patterson, obviously, is still out.  Whether the verdict comes in positive or negative could have a large impact on Tennessee’s offense in 2012 and therefore on Dooley’s chances of sticking around to see 2013 as well.

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Bray’s Mental Development Key For UT

In just half a season of work in 2010, then-freshman quarterback Tyler Bray put up a gaudy 18 touchdown passes for Tennessee.  Pretty impressive.  As were his 1,849 passing yards considering how much time he spent on UT’s bench.

But Bray also tossed 10 interceptions in that limited amount of playing time.  In fact, Bray was the living definitions of a gunslinger for the Volunteers in 2010. 

His talents were good enough to overcome many of his occasional into-coverage throws.  But now, his coach wants to see him develop into a better decision-maker, while still maintaining his short memory.

“We always talk about a white piece of paper,” quarterbacks coach Darrin Hinshaw told The Knoxville News Sentinel.  “Every play, you’re starting over.  It hurts when you make mistakes and things don’t go your way, and that’s good.  It should hurt, but on the same boat, we’ve got to be able to learn from it.  Learn from the negatives, but erase them and get ready for the next play — it can change the game, the next play.”

Last fall, Bray often displayed a truly Favreian demeanor.  If his last pass was an interception, he’d drop back and wing it again on the next play.  He didn’t rattle.

This spring, however, UT offensive coordinator Jim Chaney suggested that Bray was thinking too much at times in an effort to make better decisions with the football.  From the sound of it, he went from one extreme to the other.

Bray’s 2011 development will likely be the key to Tennessee’s season.  If he remains the gunslinger of 2010, he could conceivably toss 20 picks this fall.

But if he reins in his game too much, he might not pitch touchdown passes all over the yard, something the Vol offense will likely need to survive facing a brutal SEC schedule that includes games against the projected top three teams in West Division.

So keep an eye on Bray’s growth.  It could be one of the bigger storylines of the SEC season.

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