MILLIGAN COLLEGE (UT) -- The Tennessee football team showed some attitude and toughness as it wrapped up its morning practice on the final day of training camp at Milligan College on Wednesday.
"They are hurting but they are pushing through," head coach Derek Dooley said. "Their attitude has been great, it has just been hard. They are tired and beat on, but they are going to be recovering soon enough. That's how you feel in the fourth quarter. You have to learn how to finish the drill."
After six full days together without computers or internet and limited cell phone service, things started to get a little edgy on the practice field for the Vols before an impending thunderstorm cut things short by about five minutes.
"It's been good for team camaraderie but at some point you start getting on each other's nerves," Dooley said. "The offense is going against the same guy all the time so it's getting a little edgy and that's good, but they are handling it the right way."
Overall, the trip to Milligan College has been a resounding success with coaches and players alike talking about how much it has helped the team prepare for the upcoming season.
"It's been great," Dooley said. "It helped our team and I think it helped our staff. I hope it pays off this fall."
For local players Brendan Downs and Mack Crowder, both products of Tennessee High School in nearby Bristol, Tenn., it was good to come back home.
"It has been fun," Downs said. "I have seen some people I know from around here and it has been cool being in this area and seeing the mountains. It is so pretty up here and I miss it. It has been a really good experience for me. We are still really secluded from everything here. I have never even been to Milligan before so this is a new experience for me."
That seclusion allowed the Vols an opportunity to grow as a unit off-the-field as well, thanks to a number of team-building activities including a karaoke night and a talent show. They are ready to get back to a more familiar setting though.
"The team has had a great time," Crowder said. "We have had some team-bonding experiences where some of the freshman did a little talent show and stuff. We all have had a great time so far and have gotten a whole lot closer and lot better as a football team. The team had a great time, but I think we're getting ready to go back to Knoxville and start getting ready for this season."
PATTERSON NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE
Heralded receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is making the transition from junior college football to the highest level of college ball in the SEC with the Vols. Patterson, who was rated the No. 1 JUCO recruit in America, has been limited by a shoulder injury, but that hasn't stopped his growth and excitement of wearing the Orange & White.
"It is better here," said Patterson, who was a two-time All-American at Hutchinson CC. "In Kansas there wasn't anything and everything was slow. Everything here is better."
A lot of pressure has been placed on Patterson, but the 6-3, 205-pound product understands what it means to play at UT alongside some of the nation's top receivers in Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter.
"(I am) listening more," said Patterson. It is paying attention to Justin and Da'Rick, they are teaching me step-by-step. It is just coming slowly. They are good players, it is just watching them. I know I am a good player too. It is just competing with those guys every day makes all of us better. I think we have a chance to do some good things.
"Just coming in and listening to Da'Rick and Justin and learning from them (has helped). It is a honor to be on the same team as them. I know they are two good guys and learning from them will put me in a spot with them."
Patterson has been ailing with an injured shoulder, and has worn a red non-contact jersey during the Vols' stint in the Tri-Cities. Coach Dooley says the red shirt is more precautionary and hasn't slowed him down.
"He's been in a red shirt but he is doing everything," said Dooley. "We're just not hitting right now. I think he is getting there. He's not 100 percent but he's getting there. The last couple of practices you noticed him. The first 10 or so, he was just swimming. It is just a lot of stuff learning how to play fast and it's hard to play fast when you're not sure what to do."
Patterson agrees that he has picked up more as camp has progressed.
"The first couple days it was just so much going at me. I didn't understand a lot," said Patterson. "Coach (Darin) Hinshaw was just teaching me day by day, just told me to focus in and how to understand. Now I understand that and I am learning everything.
"Coach Hinshaw he would pull me to the side after meetings and stuff and we would stay an extra 30/35 minutes just trying to learn it. In the morning we would try to pick up something real fast so I could get the offense down pat."
Patterson knew the pace of the game would be a major upgrade at Tennessee.
"It is tough and I know there are a lot of guys out here, where I come from they were pretty good but not like it," said Patterson. "It is kind of different to translate it over. There is a lot of competition out here. There are guys out here that are physical. The corners are always on you doing whatever they need to do."
Information provied by UT Sports Media Relations and UTSports.com.