The Tennessee Volunteers struck gold with the commitment of four-star JUCO wide receiver Eric Lauderdale. He will officially make the transition to Knoxville in 2014 and is expected to make an immediate impact for the Vols, who have uncertainty at the wide receiver position this season.
The Vols hope Lauderdale will repeat the success of former-JUCO transfer Cordarrelle Patterson. In his lone season with Tennessee, Patterson led the Volunteers with 1,086 all-purpose yards and scored eight total touchdowns in 2012.
Lauderdale will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Patterson and will be judged by whether he can achieve similar success. Both players possess similar playmaking abilities, including deep-threat speed and natural athleticism.
Also, both players are 6-foot-2, although Patterson had a slight weight advantage when he transferred to Knoxville, weighing somewhere within the range of 200 pounds. But the biggest comparison between the two will be the high expectations of being a top-ranked JUCO wide receiver expected to give an immediate boost the Vols’ offense.
However, Lauderdale may have even more pressure to succeed in his first season than Patterson did. Unlike Patterson, Lauderdale does not have an experienced SEC standout receiver like Justin Hunter to take away extra coverage.
Lauderdale may also have even greater expectations living up to those created during Patterson’s outstanding transfer season. Patterson’s stellar 2012 campaign may lead Vols fans to assume that the next JUCO standout will automatically duplicate his production.
There are many factors that will play a role in Lauderdale’s success during his first season with the Vols. Tennessee’s offense has multiple unanswered questions and lacks the experience of last year’s starters.
Butch Jones has yet to officially name a starting quarterback, although prior experience gives Justin Worley the assumed lead. Worley has struggled in limited action and will need to adjust to a new offensive scheme.
As previously noted, the wide receiving corps also has a lack of experience throughout the depth chart. Alton “Pig” Howard and Vincent Dallas are the most experienced receivers by default, seeing limited action behind Patterson, Justin Hunter and Zach Rogers.
Incoming freshmen Paul Harris and Marquez North will likely compete for playing time, but obviously lack experience at the collegiate level.
Lauderdale will likely enter the 2014 season as the Vols’ No.1 wide receiver and will be expected to shine during his first season with the team. His natural speed and athleticism will likely benefit him in the Vols’ up-tempo offense.
The Vols are fortunate to land one of the nation’s top JUCO prospects for the second-consecutive year. Tennessee will look to repeat its success from last season and will rely heavily on the immediate production of Lauderdale during his first season.