Worst to First

SHREVEPORT, La. - Five-star Shea Patterson knew where he wanted to go to college long before he announced his commitment to Ole Miss Tuesday afternoon.

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His mind was pretty much made up Nov. 1.

Patterson and his family were in attendance for the Rebels’ 35-31 loss to Auburn. In the game, the Rebels not only saw their national title hopes dashed, but star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell suffered a season-ending leg injury in the final minutes.

The response afterwards, however, wasn’t what Patterson was expecting.

“After that game, they lost their perfect season, they lost their best player,” he said. “In the office afterwards, (Ole Miss head) coach (Hugh) Freeze and the whole staff were calm. They were calm and collected. They were more worried about Treadwell than losing the game. That kind of expressed to me what kind of people they are.”

“The biggest thing that happened for us as a family was going to the Auburn game,” Shea’s father, Sean, said. “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.”

But Ole Miss’ pursuit of Patterson was set in motion much earlier. Ever since he burst onto the scene as an obvious top-shelf talent as an eighth grader, the Rebels have kept tabs.

And what they’ve now landed is the No. 1 quarterback in the country, as ranked by Scout.com. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Patterson, a former Arizona commitment, has combined to throw for over 5,000 yards and 70 touchdowns to only seven interceptions in his career.

“Ole Miss is the school that’s been recruiting me from the beginning,” he said. “Even when I was committed to Arizona, they recruited me hard. The big key is the offense they run. I feel like it will be a smooth transition from high school to college and I’ll be able to fit in really well.

“Every time I went up there, I just felt so comfortable. I think what solidified them was when I went to the Auburn game. They lost to Auburn and when Treadwell got hurt it kind of shook up the season. I tried to visualize myself playing there, and I did. That’s where I feel the most comfortable.”

Now, he said, he will turn his attention to recruiting other blue-chip recruits. Four-star middle linebacker Devin White, the top target at the position for Ole Miss for the class of 2016, made the drive over from Springhill, La., to support his good friend, Patterson, and the decision he was making.

“This is just the start of recruiting (other top recruits) for me,” Patterson said. “From now until I enroll early, I’m going to be the head recruiter. I’m looking forward to joining the best class in the country already. I’m excited to put them over the top and start recruiting the best players in the country.

“Me and Devin White, we’re as close as it gets. I talk to him every day. Mykel Jones is probably my best friend outside of school and everything. We play on the same 7-on-7 team. We actually FaceTimed last night about the decision I was making this morning. Willie Allen, I actually visited Ole Miss with him a few weeks ago. He really loved it. He seems to be all in with me.”

Patterson has already developed strong relationships with his fellow Ole Miss commitments, including five-star wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.

“I talk to D.K. every day,” he said. “I actually got a call from him; he’s probably mad I didn’t answer. It was actually right before I went up and talked. I have a great relationship with him.”

More than anything, though, Patterson is relieved to be done with the process. He’s set to graduate high school early in December and enroll at Ole Miss the following semester.

“It’s awesome to get it over with,” he said. “I’ve had that weight on my shoulders. I’ve wanted to go there. That’s the place I wanted to be. We’re totally relieved that’s where I ended up. Now I can focus on getting better each and every day.”

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