Soon after signing pass rushing defensive end Chase Thomas in February, Stanford grabbed early verbal commitments from fellow Georgia prospects Brock Sanders and Camden Wentz. The Cardinal hope to tap the Peach State pipeline again with Jamal Patterson from Henry County High School in McDonough, Georgia. The 4-star wide receiver would represent arguably the biggest catch of them all and is currently ranked by Scout.com as the #24 receiver and #138 overall prospect in the nation.
His list of previously reported offers reads as one of the better ones you will find in the nation, including Alabama, Arkansas, Army, Auburn, Central Florida, Clemson, Connecticut, Duke, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Indiana, Kentucky, LSU, Marshall, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, NC State, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Oregon, Purdue, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Troy, Tulane, and Wake Forest. College coaches are not the only ones who have taken note of Patterson's big-time skill and he has already been invited to participate in the Under Armour All-American game.
With such a long and diverse offer list, Patterson has diligently visited numerous college campuses to tackle the daunting task of sorting through his many options.
"I've made about sixteen visits," the coveted receiver estimates. "I'd say over 16 campuses."
While many of those visits have taken Patterson to locales in or near his native Southeast, he plans a visit next month that will take him clear across the country to Stanford.
"I'm coming out in June," he says of his planned trip to California, which he says may come as early as the "two early weeks in June."
With so many visits already behind him and a plan to fly across the country for even more due diligence, the question becomes whether Patterson has started narrowing down his list or identifying favorites. Although the recruit maintains that he is not yet at that point, he does volunteer a smaller subset of schools whose recruitment stands out for particular intensity.
"Everybody is even but there are schools that are recruiting me harder than others," Patterson offers. "I'd say Stanford, Central Florida, Clemson, Wake Forest, Auburn, Tennessee. I'd say those are recruiting the hardest right now. And South Carolina, too."
As Patterson evaluates those schools and myriad others on his list, he does at least have a clear set of criteria that will inform his decision.
"Academics," the excellent student begins in laying out those criteria. "Bonding that I have with the coaching staff and the team. And a chance to play early."
When asked about Stanford in the context of these criteria, he succinctly summarizes the school's appeal.
"It would be the best of both worlds," Patterson praises. "The academics and athletics."
Notably, when he highlights the importance of education, Patterson is clearly not merely paying lip service. The Georgian has backed up the talk by excelling academically. By maintaining his focus in the classroom while filling his transcript with honors and Advanced Placement courses, Patterson claims that he registers a 4.5 weighted grade point average on a 4.0 scale. His rigorous course load currently includes AP Environmental Science, Honors U.S. History, Honors English 3, and Honors Trigonometry.
"Work in the classroom is more important than work on the field," Patterson insists. "I have to have my education before I can play sports. That's the main focus of me going to college is to get education."
As further sign of his high standards for himself, Patterson has also taken the ACT but is not resting on his laurels.
"I qualify but I'm going to take it again," he shares. "I'm going to take it again on June 14."
Aside from academics and the football dimension of playing early, the factor that Patterson highlights as important to his decision is his ability to bond with future coaches and teammates. He reports positive views toward Stanford in that regard as well.
"Coach Taggart is my recruiting coordinator but I talk to Coach Shaw a lot and Coach Harbaugh," he begins in describing his contact with the Stanford coaches. "They've been to my school multiple times, so I get to see them a lot. They're great guys."
He most recently had personal contact with Stanford coaches two weeks ago during the first of two allowed visits Stanford can make during this month's contact period. Patterson expects that Stanford will make a second evaluation visit to Henry County later this month. For his part, Patterson thinks that the frequency with which he has personally interacted with the Stanford coaches has helped him build an early rapport with them.
"I've talked to them several times so when we talk, or I talk, it's not even really about football," Patterson notes. "It's about things going on with each other, how school is going, things like that. We don't really talk on the football level. So I have a good bond with the staff."
Of course, with his bevy of offers Patterson is used to regular contact and visits from coaches from across the country. One could be forgiven for thinking that Patterson would have no time for anything else after accounting for a recruitment featuring constant phone conversations, school evaluation visits, and unofficial campus visits stacked on top of a decidedly serious academic course load. On the contrary, Patterson found time this spring to star in a second sport, running track and competing in the 4 X 100 relay, 4 X 400 relay, 110-meter hurdles, and 300-meter hurdles.
Last weekend, Patterson's track season culminated with the Georgia AAA state championships, where he made a splash in both of his individual events. In the 110-meter hurdles, he won the state championships with a 14.5-second finish.
"It was a lot of hard work put into it," Patterson says of the accomplishment. "A lot of training, a lot of work. I'm happy that it all paid off."
While a blistering time and championship finish in one event would be enough for most, Patterson's exploits this past weekend did not end there. He also ran the 300-meter hurdles in 38.1 seconds, finishing second in the state behind future Stanford hurdler Amaechi Morton from Atlanta (Ga.) Riverwood HS.
"I ran that at the state championships as well," Patterson relates of that second event. "I got second in the 300 hurdles. I lost to this kid, he committed to Stanford as a matter of fact. He graduated this year."
With such notable accomplishments, Patterson's participation in track is more than an offseason diversion from football. He affirms that he would like to do track in college as well as football and that track will play a role in his college decision.
"It's great," he affirms of his balancing of the two sports in which he excels. "I'd say both sports help me in each one. Football helps in track and vice versa."
It is football, of course, that offers the ultimate promise of a full athletic scholarship at any of three dozen schools that play major Division One football. Over the past two years, he has racked up 18 receiving touchdowns. In his junior campaign, Patterson hauled in 44 passes for 933 yards and 11 touchdowns as part of a dynamic receiving duo for Henry County that also included 2008 4-star receiver Chris Jackson, who signed with Alabama in February.
"I averaged over 20 yards a catch," the now 6'3" 203-pound playmaker confirms. "We had another receiver do that as well, he was a 1,200-yard receiver. He's at Alabama right now."
Aside from the amorphous designation of "playmaker" that rightly attaches to Patterson, he has some more specific reflections on what sets him apart as a wide receiver.
"My size," he begins. "My physicalness. My willingness to go across the middle. Getting the ball at its highest point. Going out there and giving my all."
Come February some college will sign a receiver who possesses not only these tantalizing attributes on the football field but also an impressive focus in the classroom and a record of accomplishment on the track. Stay tuned to Scout.com for more on his recruitment as he continues to take unofficial visits and eventually narrows his long list of suitors.
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