Patterson's Play

It’s still February, a long time from Signing Day 2016, but already the Ole Miss football program is producing big fireworks in recruiting with, among others, the commitment of the nation’s No. 1 quarterback, Shea Patterson.

In just under two weeks since Signing Day 2015, the Ole Miss football recruiting efforts for 2016 are already making giant waves on the national scene.

With the addition of the No. 1 quarterback in the country, Shea Patterson, who committed today to the Rebels, Ole Miss now has nine 2016 commits and the shock waves throughout college football circles have everyone’s attention.

Patterson, a five-star gunslinger from Shreveport, La., adds significant credibility to a class that already has five four-star commitments – TE Octavius Cooley from Laurel, WR D.K. Metcalf from Oxford, RB Denzel Mitchell from Hamilton, Ala., DT Benito Jones from Waynesboro, and speedster Justin Connor from Sardis.

The class was already potent, but with Patterson, it instantly became explosive.

“I don't know if one person can change a program, but I know that the vision of coach Freeze certainly can,” Shea’s father, Sean, said. "But the biggest thing that happened for us as a family was going to the Auburn game last year. We got to see how excited they were before the game and what was on the line. Then Ole Miss loses their best player and national championship hopes on a freakish play and we got the inside perspective of how they reacted to it the next day. We just got to see how close they are to one another. We said if this is the worst day for Ole Miss and possibly their modern-day history, then we want to be a part of it. Other places, they would have focused more on what the loss meant. But at Ole Miss, the focus was on their compassion for Laquon Treadwell and his well-being. It was amazing to see up close.”

No other position on a team draws the attention of the QB slot, and Patterson – unanimously – is the pick of this year’s litter, hands down, no questions asked.

But it’s not just getting the commitment from Patterson, it’s the potential domino effect on the whole class. Recruits watch, and pay close attention to, where the top quarterbacks go, especially offensive players.

Getting the top quarterback’s pledge can be like putting a match to gasoline, not only for the class of this year, but classes in subsequent years. Every wide receiver wants to catch the ball from the best quarterback because it makes them look good, too. Every lineman – Patterson’s friend, four-star left tackle Willie Allen, maybe? – wants to protect the best quarterback because the success of the QB ensures their success as well. Every running back wants the pressure of being a one-man show taken off their shoulders – a great QB opens so many options for them as well. Every tight end wants a great quarterback because they see, and use, the whole field and all their options.

The momentum Patterson’s commitment can create is immeasurable, but it is surely ultra-important. It is also critical that Patterson got his decision out of the way early and resolutely.

There have already been rumblings from several top-rated players who have stated, “I will go where Shea goes.”

There’s also the public talk that Patterson has already developed a network, if you will, of recruits he talks to regularly, urging them to join him – Springhill, La., RB/MLB Devin White, a four-star, and Patterson have entertained playing together in college, for example. We’ve been told Patterson has excellent leadership and communication skills that should pay dividends with his active recruitment of select talent.

While that’s no guarantee a lot of players will follow his lead, to have someone so well-regarded in this class touting the virtues of Ole Miss football is certainly a major, major asset and it’s safe to say it should pay handsome dividends in the long run.

“Shea will just be Shea,” Sean said. “Where he plays, (other recruits) want to play with him. He'll play in some 7-on-7 tournaments and go to some camps and talk to some guys, I'm sure. He'll tell him why he likes Ole Miss, but he won't pressure anyone. I think people just like to follow Shea because of the type of team player he is. He knows a lot of other top recruits and he doesn't like for them to pressure him, so he isn't going to pressure them. He'll just throw them some balls, and good kids seem to gravitate towards one another.”

And then there’s Patterson’s own impact on the program.

How good is he? We talked to several talent scouts and the following are some snippets. (It must be said that there was not one single negative expressed.)

“His release is as good as I have ever seen.”

“He’s so smooth, athletic and smart. He just picks defenses apart.”

“Shea reminds me of a young Aaron Rodgers with his quick release and even quicker decision-making.”

“He has won two state titles, because he’s the total package – there are no flaws. He is a no-brainer. There’s a reason he is rated the number one QB in the country.”

How big is the Patterson commitment?

Huge. Patterson pegging the Rebs could end up being the biggest ever due to a) his ability; b) his influence on other recruits and c) committing early. And an added bonus, he’s expected to graduate high school early in December and enroll next month.

It’s been widely discussed and reported the 2016 haul could go down as one of, if not the best, recruiting classes in Ole Miss history. Patterson could very well be the key cog in making sure it happens.

A new normal, indeed.

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