49ers.com's 49 in 49 pre-draft series continues with a look at one of the premier wide receivers available in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Smack dab in the middle of Kansas is a city of about 40,000 people called Hutchinson. A year ago, Coradarrelle Patterson was living there, a world away from the NFL lifestyle as a junior college student-athlete.
In the 12 months since, Patterson has vaulted up the boards and worked to become one of the top receivers available in the 2013 NFL Draft. Establishing yourself as an impact wideout in the defensive-minded SEC will do that.
But before he made a dent in the FBS realm at Rocky Top as a Tennessee Volunteer, Patterson had to bide his time as a Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragon.
“There were a lot of times I doubted because I had to leave high school and go all the way to Hutchinson in Kansas,” Patterson said. “I would call my mom every day and ask her if she still thought I needed to do this and she said, ‘Yeah, it’s been your dream for a long time so just make sure you stick with it.’”
Mothers always know best.
Patterson wasn’t a huge fan of the 18-hour drive from his hometown of Rock Hill, S.C. to Hutchinson, Kan., so he was happy to cut his family’s trip to just a four-hour drive to Knoxville, Tenn. Likewise, the university was happy to add the nation’s top junior-college transfer in time for the 2012 season.
Once he donned the iconic orange and white threads of Tennessee, Patterson proved why he was the nation’s most sought after JUCO recruit. The 6-foot-2-inch, 216-pound receiver debuted with a two-touchdown performance against North Carolina State in the season opener and never looked back.
Not bad for someone who initially expected to be the No. 3 receiver on his team.
“When I went to Tennessee, I didn’t even think I was going to be a starter,” Patterson said. “But then I went in and some things happened at Tennessee and people started expecting big things from me, so I had to fill that role.”
Patterson’s profile was raised right before the season started, when starting Tennessee wideout Da’Rick Rogers was suspended from the team and eventually transferred to FCS school Tennessee Tech.
Instead of shrink in the spotlight, Patterson raised his level of play and established himself as a versatile threat on offense and special teams. He finished his junior season with 46 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns, while also totaling 25 rushing attempts for 308 yards and three touchdowns.
He also became the first FBS player since 2008 to score a touchdown in four ways, as he scored on an 81-yard punt return and a 98-yard kickoff return.
Asked for a quick scouting report of himself, Patterson simply offered, “Speed, catching and scoring.”
At the all-important Scouting Combine in February, Patterson ran a 4.42-second, 40-yard dash, which was good for sixth-best among wide receivers. Given his big frame and soft hands, many have pegged Patterson to be the first receiver taken in the draft.
“I say I’m a top-15 pick but I can’t control what coaches think and they’re the ones that make the decisions,” Patterson said. “If they see me in the top 15, top 10, then I respect that because I think I am.”
When it comes to pro role models, Patterson said he enjoys watching fellow big-bodied wideout Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons. He could also be an intriguing option for the Carolina Panthers (No. 14 pick), who play just a half-hour away from his hometown near the North Carolina-South Carolina border.
“My mama, she talks about that all the time,” Patterson said. “If I could be that close to home, I know she’d be at every game possible. When I was little, I used to always think about playing for the Panthers. If that dream comes true, then it comes true.”
Patterson will likely be long gone by the time the 49ers draft with the No. 31 pick in the first round on April 25, but could be an interesting option as a downfield threat in the San Francisco passing game.
As for the doubters who say he’s too raw to be a top-10 NFL selection? Patterson isn’t listening to them.
“I don’t listen to anything anyone says about my ability,” Patterson said. “God gave it to me and I go out every day and practice hard at practice, and in the games I expect big things out of myself.”