Camion Patrick had a plan. Albeit an unusual one, it was a plan.
The receiver from Lenoir City (Tenn.) High School decided to commit to Tennessee in January in hopes of receiving more scholarship offers.
“I don't know,” Patrick said when asked why he thought that might work. “I just thought 'What if I did this?'”
Usually, that plan probably wouldn't have worked so well. It's more likely that schools would back off of a prospect who committed early to his hometown school. Not this time. Patrick was right.
Soon after committing to the Vols, he picked up scholarship offers from Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas. Florida and Auburn have also shown recent interest.
Despite Patrick's premeditated maneuver, he also chose the Vols for other reasons. He said that Tennessee is one of the top schools he's always wanted to play for, but with more interest and more offers, just how committed is Patrick now?
Hard to say.
“Right now, I'm open,” Patrick said. “As of right now, I'm committed to UT but I have an open mind.”
Patrick said he's planning visits to Alabama and Florida. The Gators could be close to offering, like the Tide, which has made Patrick a priority.
“They're calling a lot,” Patrick said. “They send letters also to the school. I feel like I'm pretty big to them. It feels great.”
Ole Miss and Arkansas also are keeping in contact. Patrick said he likes the Razorbacks' passing attack. Yet Tennessee still has the inside track. Patrick visits the school often and has grown close to offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
“He's hilarious,” Patrick said of the witty coach. “I talk to him all the time. He says I can come down there anytime I want and come watch them play or practice.”
Patrick added that Chaney's work with UT's receivers, specifically Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, is enticing.
“What they're doing with them, they can do with me,” he said with his trademark smile.
Being close to Knoxville means Patrick also knows the lay of the land for the Vols. Third-year Vols head coach Derek Dooley needs to win this season to secure his job status after going 11-14 the last two seasons.
“It's important,” Patrick said of 2012. “They have a lot of guys that can get the job done. I went there last week to watch spring practice. They have a lot of big guys. They should be able to get the job done.”
Tennessee doesn't seem worried about Patrick, who said coaches there haven't told him to ignore other teams vying for his services.
“They haven't said anything at all,” Patrick said. “They just want me to come up there and see how practice goes and see what I can be doing.”
Lenoir City head coach Mike Zeller said the recruiting process can be a little overwhelming for a prospect as gifted as Patrick, but added that he's handling it well. As for on the field, that's not a concern.
“He's a gifted athlete,” Zeller said of Patrick, who caught 23 passes last season for 435 yards. “He can do a lot of different things. In our league, teams have a hard time matching up with him. Sometimes you have to bracket him because if you send someone out there alone, we're going to pick on him.”
Hard to cover on the field. Hard to cover in recruiting. College coaches, especially at Tennessee, had better double-team Patrick as well.