As one recruiting season ends, another begins.
And Ole Miss is kicking off 2016 with a bang.
Shea Patterson, a five-star prospect and rated the No. 1 quarterback in the country by Scout.com, committed to the Rebels on Tuesday at his school over LSU, Notre Dame, USC and others. Patterson, of Shreveport, La., becomes the ninth Rebel pledge already for the 2016 class.
“Just the atmosphere, really,” Patterson said, when asked of what he likes about Ole Miss. “Whenever I (visit) Ole Miss, I just feel comfortable. That’s the most important thing, and (co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks) coach (Dan) Werner is one of my favorite coaches.”
Patterson was named Class 2A Player of the Year and a first team All-SEC selection as a junior.
“I just think they really made it known over and over he was their guy,” Shea’s father, Sean, said. “Ole Miss is also a school that is the right size for him. He loves small towns. The biggest thing for him, though, is that every coach at Ole Miss, from their defensive line coach to their offensive line coach, knew who he was and what he meant to the university and program and how he could get them over the hump.
“Ole Miss made him feel like their guy from day one. Some schools of course their quarterback coach and offensive coordinator would know who you where, but the defensive line coach or the offensive line coach wouldn't know you. Not at Ole Miss. They knew how he could affect every position and what kind of impact he could have for the program.”
Patterson is the sixth member of the Scout 300 to commit to Ole Miss, joining four-star tight end Octavious Cooley, four-star running back Denzel Mitchell, four-star defensive tackle Benito Jones, four-star running back Justin Conner and four-star wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.
“For the last three years, the Ole Miss coaches made themselves easily accessible,” Sean said. “Coaches can't call prospects until their senior year, so obviously they haven't been able to call Shea yet. But we call the Ole Miss coaches anytime. And anytime we call, they pick up the phone. If I want to call my son, I don't want to be walking on egg shells wondering if I'm going to be able to get in touch with my son or the coaches. Coach Freeze told me three years ago that I could call at any time and he would be available. Not one time have I ever called and they not picked up the phone, unlike a lot of staffs.”
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Patterson was recently described by Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins as a “historical player” whose “upside at the next level is extremely high. He has the talent and makeup to step into a college program and compete very early.”
Ole Miss lost three-year starter Bo Wallace to graduation following a 9-4 season in 2014. The Rebels currently boast five quarterbacks on their roster, including 2015 signees Chad Kelly, a four-star junior college transfer, and three-star Jason Pellerin.
Patterson led Calvary Baptist to a state championship in his junior season, throwing for 233 yards and two touchdowns en route to being named the game’s Most Outstanding Player. For the year, he completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,428 yards and 38 touchdowns to only three interceptions.
“Shea reminds me of a more mobile Drew Brees,” renowned quarterbacks coach and trainer Steve Clarkson, whose clients have ranged from Ben Roethlisberger to Tim Tebow, said of Patterson in an interview with USCFootball.com.
“He has a strong arm, he’s very smart and the things his high school team asks him to handle are very complex.”
Patterson visited Ole Miss for its elite junior day last month. He was also in attendance when the Rebels’ took on Auburn at home in November.
“They were one of the first coaching staffs to offer me, so I’ve been able to build a really great relationship with them over the last year and half or so,” Patterson said. “(Ole Miss head) Coach (Hugh) Freeze and them, I love them.
“I feel like Ole Miss’ offense is very similar to what I run at my school. So I feel like I’d be able to come in and adjust right away. It’d be a smooth transition from high school to college.”
Scout.com ranks Patterson as its No. 9 overall prospect in the country. He holds additional offers from, among others, Alabama, Auburn, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.
“He reminds me of Aaron Murray,” former Heisman Trophy winner and Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke, now the head coach of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, said. “Patterson can spin the ball and place it exactly where it needs to go. He can throw guys open, make tight fits in small windows and throw with outstanding touch.”