The best is yet to come for Cordarrelle Patterson

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 30, 2014 - 11:41 PM

For a game-breaker like Cordarrelle Patterson, the next highlight clip can be just a step away.


Cordarrelle Patterson, entering his second season in the NFL, has become one of the fresh new faces of the Vikings.


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Cordarrelle Patterson, as always, is looking for an opening.

It’s one of the dog days of training camp, and the second-year wideout is peeking through the blinds at Jake’s Stadium Pizza in Mankato. He just picked apart a thin-crust pepperoni pizza and has to rush back to campus to prepare for that night’s practice.

But a pair of pesky, prepubescent fans are hovering outside on their bicycles, hoping to corral him for an autograph. If he stops for these two — and he swears he already signed for them after the morning walk-through — who knows how many Vikings fans will swarm him in the parking lot?

When the youngsters pedal around the back of the building, Patterson makes his move.

“Let’s go,” he says, heading for the front door.

He hops on his golf cart, speeds out of his spot and kicks it into its highest gear.

Just like that, he’s gone.

It was similar to what NFL defenders experienced during the tail end of Patterson’s electric rookie year.

Those who know Patterson say it’s not surprising that he is on the verge of NFL stardom. Never mind that he quit football for a while in high school. Never mind that Division I programs initially had to pass on him because of academic shortcomings. Never mind that his winding road to the league included pit stops at a prep school in North Carolina, a junior college in Kansas and the University of Tennessee.

Now that the fun-loving speedster with the blond dreadlocks and omnipresent smile has settled into his new home in Minnesota, everyone — from Vikings teammates and officials to giddy basement bloggers and NFL talking heads — seems to expect Patterson to ascend to stardom this season.

“I told him this, and maybe it was a little premature,” veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings said. “But I told him, ‘At some point, I’m going to tell my kids I played with Cordarrelle Patterson.’ ”

South Carolina-raised

Patterson grew up in Rock Hill, S.C., a southern suburb of Charlotte that has produced a bunch of NFL players, including 2014 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. Patterson and his two older siblings were raised by his mother, Catherine, who worked as a nurse until he made her retire this past year.

He rarely gave Catherine, whom he still calls on most nights, trouble beyond throwing his sippy cup into the bushes when he was a toddler and pulling pranks on her as a teenager.

His father was not around and only recently emerged from the shadows. “He came in good with the talk,” Patterson said, shaking his head. He hasn’t heard from him in a while. He wants to keep it that way.

Even as a kid, Patterson was like a Super Ball, bouncing from football to basketball to track. But he was burned out by the time he reached ninth grade and quit all sports. He didn’t play football until his junior year, when his old high school coach and quarterback talked him off the sidelines.

The Division I powerhouses, including in-state rivals South Carolina and Clemson, knew about his talent, but he was lightly recruited. They knew he wouldn’t qualify academically, and Patterson had a reputation for being immature.

His mother remembers the day she got a phone call from Patterson asking for an early ride home from practice. After an argument with a coach, he had ripped off his helmet, jersey and shoulder pads right there on the field and stomped off.

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