Shea Patterson — the nation’s No. 1 quarterback and Louisiana’s top overall recruit — did as expected Wednesday and announced his commitment to Ole Miss, choosing the Rebels over LSU and USC, among others.
I’ve been asked many times whether Patterson was a must-get recruit for LSU in the 2016 class. He’s the best quarterback the state’s produced in quite some time. Every expert that’s seen him throw in-person sees him as a no-brainer to have success on the next level And with the woes LSU’s quarterbacks have had, fans clamored to get this guy in the fold.
But despite all of that, my answer to that question was always a no. That’s because of a kid named Feleipe Franks, who already happens to be committed to the Tigers.
LSU had every right to target Patterson. He was too good to pass up, and it’s not every day that someone of his caliber moves into your backyard. LSU wanted an embarrassment of riches with both Patterson and Franks, but settling for the latter is a pretty good consolation prize.
Franks is right there with Patterson in the top tier of quarterbacks for 2016. He’s No. 5 at his position, and when we got to see the two throw side-by-side at LSU’s camp this summer, most everyone came away thinking Franks had the better day.
Franks has the size with that 6-foot-6 frame that he’s still growing into. He can make plays with his feet when necessary, but he’s so strong in the pocket and throws the deep ball with such little effort that he’s a legitimate pocket passer for the next level.
He’s loved LSU since they offered last spring and he committed soon after. He hasn’t wavered in that commitment, despite consistent attention coming from other schools. LSU will have to fend off that competition, but it does he appear he’s all LSU.
Now LSU will continue to pursue a second quarterback for this class. Dwayne Haskins has emerged lately as the next target up for Cam Cameron, though LSU has to fight a lot of other programs for his commitment. There are also some other in-state QBs that LSU will monitor through the spring and summer.
But no one can complain if Franks is the only quarterback LSU signs in 2016. Already having him committed should give the fans plenty of reason to feel optimistic about the future of the quarterback position.
If there is a problem though with Patterson choosing Ole Miss, it’s the domino effect that may create. Patterson has an engaging personality, one that’s gotten several recruits excited about the chance of playing with him in college. Ole Miss hopes he’s the guy to build a class around, and he can definitely be that lightning rod for other recruits.
There are three in particular from Louisiana that have said they want to follow Patterson.
Four-star wide receiver Mykel Jones has become one of Patterson’s best friends on the recruiting trail. Those two have taken several visits together to schools like Texas and USC. They were in Oxford together for a junior day last month. Jones won’t have a problem leaving the state either — as his teammate Daylon Charlot did in 2015 — so he’ll be one to watch closely moving forward.
Four-star running back/linebacker Devin White (North Webster) was in attendance for Patterson’s announcement Saturday. LSU was the first school to offer him back in the summer of 2013, but Ole Miss has come on strong and he’s a top priority for them at linebacker.
The other is Willie Allen, the big offensive tackle from John Curtis. He’s said before that he wants to protect Patterson’s blindside in college. He too was at that Ole Miss junior day, and most have actually pegged him as a legitimate risk to leave the state. As the top offensive lineman in Louisiana though, LSU will have to work its hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen for the third year in a row.
So while Franks makes it easier to stomach the loss of a five-star quarterback, making sure other top Louisiana recruits don’t follow Patterson will be a major focus for the rest of this class.
What Shea Patterson to Ole Miss means for LSU
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