Dec. 3, 2012
Vols senior offensive lineman Dallas Thomas was named a Third-Team All-American by CBSSports.com. Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Mychal Rivera were also named to CBSSports.com's All-SEC team.
Thomas, who moved to left guard in senior season, started the final 37 games of his college career with the Vols. He was a member of the Outland Trophy Watch List heading into 2012. He started all 12 games this season and aided the Vols' offensive line which allowed only eight sacks, the fewest in the SEC and fourth-fewest per game (0.67) in the NCAA. With Thomas on the line, 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.
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 is Tennessee's first-ever all-purpose first-team selection. The junior 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 set the record for receiving yards in a single-season by a Tennessee tight end with 562 yards, surpassing the Dallas Cowboys' Jason Witten, who has 493 in 2002 with the Vols. Rivera 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.