HUTCHINSON, Kan. -- Junior college wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC) said he knew for a while that Tennessee was going to be his school of choice.
One last talk with his family on Monday night sealed the deal as Patterson committed to the Volunteers on Wednesday morning.
Tennessee fans can rejoice, but they might want to send a special "thank you" note to Furman wide receiver Will King.
It was King who convinced Patterson to come out for football when Patterson was a junior and the two were high school teammates in Rock Hill, S.C.
If it wasn't for King, who was the team's quarterback, there is no telling where Patterson's journey would have taken him. It certainly wouldn't have taken him to Knoxville, Tenn.
"I played football growing up, but when I got to high school, my love of the game was gone," Patterson said. "I needed a break. My junior year I was ready to get back out there and now here I am; it's crazy."
Patterson said King urged him to start playing again because King knew he had the potential to be something special. There is no questioning Patterson's commitment to the game anymore.
Patterson, 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, had his pick from a number of major programs. Teams like Florida, Miami (Fla.) and Nebraska were among the programs that offered and didn't even make his final four. But it was Tennessee that started the crazy process for him, and it was with the Tennessee coaches where he felt the most comfortable.
"The first phone call came from Tennessee last year on signing day," Patterson said. "They never gave up. With some other teams, I would talk to the coaches once a week or something like that. Tennessee was different. They would call me almost every day, and they kept rolling with me. They kept sticking by me."
Patterson said he was pretty sure he would choose Tennessee, but after taking official visits to Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss in the last month, he had some doubt. He had great times on those visits and started to wonder what it would be like at those other schools.
The difference, he said, came after talking to his family.
"My sister really liked Tennessee," Patterson said. "My family got along with the coaches really well. And I know that if they can get along well, then I can get along with the coaches, too."
Patterson had Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and Ole Miss hats on the table before choosing the Volunteers.
In his two seasons at Hutchinson, Patterson set 13 school records and was a two-time juco All-American.
"He has a great personality and big heart," Hutchinson coach Rion Rhoades said. "He is athletic and fast for his size and has great ball skills.
"He is someone who can play big or small. I remember the first time I saw him, and all I thought was I had to find a way to get this guy. He has grown up as a young man here, and it has been real neat to be a part of something like this."
It was tough, at first, for Patterson to accept going to a junior college after not qualifying academically out of high school. He admitted that he didn't care about his grades during his freshman and sophomore year, and it left him in a tough predicament.
He wanted to go straight from high school to a top-notch program, but the detour to Hutchinson has helped him grow as a person, he said.
"I thought junior college would be a waste of time," Patterson said. "It has been a great thing for me to come here and learn.
"Back in high school, I didn't have everything I needed. I didn't respect people how I should. The coaches here have taught me respect and how to do things the right way."
Patterson said he doesn't have any regrets with how everything has turned out. He had no idea his recruitment was going to become as big of a deal as it did, but he said he feels blessed to have the opportunity to play football and go to college at Tennessee.
"When I was on my visit, it felt like home," Patterson said. "Being at the game, that was a great atmosphere. People were saying my name and saying how much they need me. The coaches were great. My QB [Justin Worley] goes there.
"Going to the SEC didn't really matter to me, but it's nice. I've had a lot of people say the SEC has the best competition, and it's where you want to be. It's where I'm going."