9. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/KR
Cordarrelle Patterson was only at Tennessee for one season, but what a season it was.
Patterson set the school record for all-purpose yards in a season with 1,858 yards, breaking Reggie Cobb’s record of 1,721 yards back in 1987. Patterson was a danger to score every time the ball got in his hands, and he was arguably the most gifted athlete Tennessee had this decade.
While the 2012 Vols aren’t remembered fondly, that’s not because of Patterson and Tennessee’s offense. That offense set records, and Patterson was a big reason why. He scored touchdowns four different ways, becoming the first player in the NCAA to do so since 2008. Patterson scored five receiving touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns, a kick-off return touchdown, and a punt return touchdown. He became only the second Vol ever to have a kick-off and punt return touchdown in the same season, joining Bobby Gordon — who did it in 1957.
By the time the season was over, Patterson held the SEC record for single-season total kick return average per return (kick-off plus punt) with 27.6 yards a return.
Patterson finished his lone season at Tennessee with 778 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 46 catches, 308 rushing yards and three scores on 25 attempts, and 671 kick return yards and a touchdown on 24 returns. He only returned four punts, but one of those was an 81-yard score.
Though he only played one year, Patterson’s immense potential and freak athletic ability led him to be picked in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, becoming the first Vol since the 2010 draft to be taken in the first round.
There wasn’t a better all-purpose player for Tennessee this decade, and there might not be a better all-purpose player in UT history period.