KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/SUBMITTED) -- Five Tennessee football players have been officially invited to the 2013 NFL Combine held from February 20-26, 2013 in Indianapolis, Ind. at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Seniors Mychal Rivera and Dallas Thomas and juniors Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson have each received an invitation to the prestigious event.
Last season, Malik Jackson and Tauren Poole took part in the combine. Both players were on an NFL Roster this season, Jackson with the Denver Broncos and Poole with the Carolina Panthers.
Over 300 of the top football players in the country, including Tennessee’s five athletes, were invited to take part in the combine in front of top executives, coaching staffs, player personnel departments and medical personnel from all 32 NFL teams who will be on hand to evaluate the nation’s top college football players eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft.
The intense, four-day job interview is an exciting time for the athletes and a vital step in achieving their dreams of playing in the NFL.
Bray, who will don QB 2 during the event, helped spurn a Tennessee offense that recorded 434 points, 26th nationally, 5,711 total yards, 19th nationally and 3,787 passing yards, 16th nationally.
Individually, Bray’s 34 passing touchdowns tied for sixth most among all NCAA players, while he ranked 11th in passing yards (3,612), 13th in passing yards/game (301.0) and 31st in passing efficiency (146.26).
For his career, Bray is and sixth in total offense per play (7.36) and seventh among active NCAA quarterbacks in passing yards per game (265.9). Bray is also eighth among all active NCAA players in career passing touchdowns (69) and 13th in total offense per game (258.5).
In doing so, Bray plastered his name all over the Tennessee record books in just two and a half seasons as the starting quarterback for the Vols. He sits fourth on the Tennessee career passing touchdowns list with 69, and fourth in career passing yards (7.151), pass attempts (888) and completions (520). He also has had 21 multiple touchdown games in his career.
In 2012, Bray set a new school record for single-game passing yards, besting Peyton Manning while throwing for 530 yards against Troy. Bray and Manning account for the top-seven single-game passing performances in Tennessee history while his 34 touchdowns and 3,612 passing yards rank second on the single-season list behind Manning.
Hunter, who will wear WO 16 during the event, earned Phil-Steele Fourth Team and Pro Football Weekly Honorable Mention All-American honors after a stellar junior season. The Virginia Beach, Va. native was also named Phil Steele First Team All-SEC, Coaches Second Team All-SEC and AP Second Team All-SEC as a wide receiver.
Hunter led the Vols and finished third in the SEC with 73 catches for 1,083 yards. His total for catches ranked second-most in a season in Tennessee history and his yardage total was third all-time in a season. Hunter scored nine receiving touchdowns, including a school-record tying three TDs in two different games this season. He scored three touchdowns against both Georgia State and Troy. Hunter had four 100-yard receiving games as a junior including a career-high 181 vs. Troy. He became the eighth Vol with a 1,000-yard receiving season.
Patterson, will officially wear WO 24 at the combine. In his lone season as a Vol racked up multiple postseason honors. Patterson, alongside Hunter, was named to Phil Steele’s First Team all-conference, was a Coaches and AP First-Team All-SEC as a all-purpose player and Second Team All-SEC as a return specialist.
Patterson became the first Vol to earn multiple honors on a team since Terry Fair in 1996 who earned accolades as a returner and defensive back.
The Rock Hill, S.C. native had a record-setting year as he established the SEC's new single-season mark for average per return for combined kickoff and punt returns at 27.6. His kickoff return average of 28.0, ranks second all-time in the SEC for a single-season. Patterson also established a new Tennessee record for all-purpose yards in a season with 1,858. His 154.8 all-purpose yards per game led the SEC and ranked in the top 20 in the nation. Patterson became the first player in the NCAA to record a touchdown four different ways in the same season since 2008 and the first-ever to accomplish the feat at Tennessee. He led the Vols with 10 total touchdowns (five receiving, three rushing and one each by kickoff and punt return). Patterson had 42 catches for 778 yards to go along with 25 carries for 308 yards. He returned 24 kickoffs for 671 yards and four punts for 101 yards. He posted the fourth-greatest receiving day in UT history with nine catches for 219 yards against Troy. Against the Trojans, he racked up 275 all-purpose yards, the second-most for any Vol in a single game, ever. He scored the Vols' first punt return for a touchdown since 2003 with an 81-yard return at Vanderbilt.
Rivera, who participated in the 2013 Senior Bowl, became UT's first All-SEC coaches' first-team tight end since Jason Witten in 2002. The All-SEC AP second-team tight end set the record for receiving yards in a single-season by a Tennessee tight end with 562 yards, surpassing the Dallas Cowboys' Witten, who has 493 in 2002 with the Vols.
The Valencia, Calif. native, who will wear TE 16 during the combine, closed his senior season with catches in 18 consecutive games. He posted career-highs with 10 catches for 129 yards against Missouri. Rivera had five receiving touchdowns as part of his career-best 36 catches.
Rivera earned praise during Senior Bowl week, and played the majority of the game, but caught just one pass for one yard.
Thomas was the first of seven Tennessee seniors invited to an all-star game when he accepted his invitation to the Senior Bowl back on Dec. 26, 2012.
In his final year on Rocky Top, the Baton Rouge, La. native was honored as a third-team All-American by CBSSports.com and a fourth-team selection by Phil Steele.
Thomas, who will wear OL 47 during the combine, was also a second-team All-SEC pick by the Associated Press and SEC Coaches. He helped the Vols to one of the nation's top offensive lines in 2012, playing at left guard. The Vols' offensive line allowed just eight sacks, the fewest in the SEC and fourth-fewest per game (0.67) in the NCAA.
With Thomas, Tennessee racked up 475.9 yards of offense per game to rank 20th in the nation and 315.6 yards of passing offense to list 15th overall. Tennessee had five games with 500-plus yards of total offense, the most by UT since 1997. That included a school-record 718 yards of total offense against Troy.
Thomas started the final 37 games of his college career including all 12 as a left at left guard in 2012. The previous 25 came at left tackle in his sophomore and junior season.
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