Cordarrelle Patterson’s role has turned from potential star to absolute necessity for the Volunteer offense. Much has been said since the suspension of Da’rick Rogers that Patterson has not played a down of SEC football which will leave the passing attacking extremely vulnerable against NC State and their highly acclaimed secondary on Friday. Personally, I predict Patterson’s debut in Orange to be much like Kelly Washington’s in 2001.
Kelly Washington was a Florida Marlins prospect who came to Knoxville with JUCO-like eligibility in 2001. Tennessee lost their leading receiver Cedrick Wilson and his 12 touchdowns catches after the 2000 season to the NFL Draft. With Donte Stallworth being their only proven wideout for 2001, many doubted Washington’s ability to fill the void left by Wilson. Many critics didn’t believe that Kelly was ready to play on the SEC level due to his time spent away from football. Washington not only filled the void left by Wilson, he had 1010 yards and 5 touchdowns. Against LSU early in the season, the freshman receiver had 256 yards which is a Tennessee game record for receiving yards. Washington’s big play capability alongside Stallworth’s undeniable talent, speed and 10 touchdowns led Tennessee to an 11-2 record and an appearance in the SEC Championship game.
Stallworth and Washington’s opposing styles complimented each other well in the passing game which is also true for Hunter and Patterson. It will be interesting to see how Coach Hinshaw and Coach Chaney use the rest of the receivers in the passing game. The 2001 Vols relied heavily on 1464 yards and 10 touchdowns from Travis Stephens and the 2012 Vols tend to be more pass happy without the emergence of an every down back. Come Friday afternoon in Atlanta we will see the full star that is Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson has done all the right things in the off-season and I predict big stats for him, Hunter, Zach Rogers and Bray for 2012. CP may not have a 1000 yard season like Washington in 2001, but he will be more than ready to succeed against SEC secondaries on a weekly basis and help the Vols restore their place in the ranks of the SEC. Stay optimistic Big Orange Country.