Patterson Feels At Home At Tackle

David Patterson was one of the most highly-recruited defensive tackles in the country coming out of high school. He played DT his first two seasons at Ohio State, but saw most of his snaps at end in 2005. Now as a senior, Patterson is back at tackle and he's excited about the move. We caught up with him for more.

By the end of the 2005 season, Ohio State's David Patterson was playing the best football of his career. Getting most of his snaps at defensive end, he was solid against the run, and did a fine job of putting pressure on quarterbacks as well.

He finished the season with modest statistics (24 tackles, including 14 solos, 7.5 for loss and four sacks) but his strong play against Michigan and Notre Dame in the final two games of the season left a lot of people wondering just how good he could be in 2006.

Now that preseason camp has arrived, Patterson is ready to make his mark. He will slide down to tackle this season, his natural position, and he's excited about the move.

"Tackle is the position I like playing the most," Patterson said. "I've always played that ever since I can remember. So, really, it's exciting for me because I love playing next to Quinn (Pitcock) and I think with all the great teams on our schedule this year we are going to need to play great and show what we can do."

During the spring, defensive coordinator Jim Heacock made the bold statement that Pitcock and Patterson could be one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the country.

Patterson takes a humble approach when he hears such praise and gives most of the credit to Pitcock.

"Well, obviously Quinn is a great player and I'm just working my hardest so we can contribute as much as we can to this team," Patterson said. "Me and Quinn, we just want to be guys that the younger guys can look to for leadership and make a play when they need us to. Just lead by example and just pretty much make plays and get our team through any rough times we might have."

Patterson is excited for camp to begin. He knows it will be tough, but feels these three weeks will be crucial for the Buckeyes' season.

"Well, I'm just ready to work hard and get a lot better," he said. "It feels like it has come up so fast and I feel there's a lot of things I want to accomplish and want to accomplish with the team. There are great things we can do on this D-Line and this is my last year to get it done. I've been with these guys for four years and this is my last chance to be a part of this team and I want to make the most of it."

When asked why he thinks he played so well to finish the 2005 season, Patterson credited his teammates around him.

"I think it was one of those things where the whole defense learned to play together better during the course of the year," he said. "For me personally, the game slowed down. And I think it started to slow down for everybody. So, I think the more that happened and the better people played around me helped me also play well."

The 6-3 Patterson has maintained his 285-pound weight. He's not huge for a defensive tackle, but he's quick and strong.

"Yeah, I'm still the same size as last year, even though I'm moving inside," Patterson said. "The biggest thing for me was to get my body in excellent shape. We're going to have some hot games this year and the weather is already really hot right now. I wasn't so concerned with getting bigger this summer, I just wanted to make sure I was in tip-top shape so I could play harder for longer."

While Patterson and Pitcock (as well as senior DE Jay Richardson) are expected to lead the defensive line, there is also a host of talented young players ready to make their marks.

"Lawrence Wilson is a phenomenal athlete. He's a really great player," Patterson said. "We also have Vernon Gholston, Alex Barrow, Todd Denlinger… all those guys are good and have been working really hard this summer and I think they are going to have good years. They were all highly-recruited players and they can play and I think this year they're going to get a little more of a shot to get in there and contribute very well."

But Patterson doesn't want anyone to forget about Richardson. He had one of the best work-ethics on the team this summer and Patterson and others took notice.

"Jay is a great player," Patterson said. "I think he has the potential to be one of the best players in the country if he keeps working hard and keeps the same focus he had all summer, he will have a great season. Jay knows it's his senior year and for all the seniors, it's do-or-die for us now. We know that and I'm looking for big things out of Jay."

As for Patterson, he was asked to reveal his best asset on the football field. And he didn't say anything about stopping the run, or providing a pass rush.

"I'd say probably my enthusiasm" he said. "I try and get all the guys going out there and try to make sure everyone is having fun because even though this is big-time college football and we've got to win, you always want to make sure we're having fun and the guys stay relaxed."

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