In an interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones revealed that junior wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is “definitely going to the NFL” based on his discussions with the star receiver. Patterson has yet to confirm or deny Jones' comments.
“He's a special player with a great skill set,” Jones said. “I wish him well.”
Jones, who replaced Derek Dooley as the head coach of the Volunteers on Dec. 7, said he has talked with the team's draft-eligible underclassmen who are considering leaving early for the NFL Draft. Earlier this week, junior WR Justin Hunter, who led the team in receiving, announced he would declare for the 2013 NFL Draft and starting RT junior Ja'Wuan James revealed he was returning to Knoxville in 2013.
Patterson currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 WR for the 2013 NFL Draft and is considered a second-round pick. Although still unpolished as a route runner, Patterson has explosive ability with the ball in his hands with excellent acceleration and vision to weave through defenses.
Patterson transferred to Tennessee prior to the 2012 season from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver finished this season second on the team with 46 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns, earning first-team All-SEC honors. He also had three rushing touchdowns and two scores on special teams, one punt return touchdown and one kick return for a score.
Jones and those around the Tennessee program are still awaiting the decision of Volunteers starting quarterback Tyler Bray, who is strongly considering skipping his senior season for the NFL Draft. If Patterson is off to the NFL and Bray returns, the lanky, strong-armed quarterback would be without his top four receivers from 2012 (Hunter, Patterson, WR Zach Rogers and TE Mychal Rivera), who combined for 187 catches last season (65.6 percent of the team's receptions).