[Author's Note: This interview was conducted on Saturday, June 28. The author's delinquency and a busy holiday schedule delayed publication. Consider Patterson's quotes in the context of that date and a visit to Stanford the weekend ending June 22-23.]
When TheBootleg.com profiled McDonough (Ga.) Henry County HS 4-star wide receiver Jamal Patterson in May, the fleet-footed track star had just finished a junior year spring that netted him championship results in the hurdles as well as scholarship offers from dozens of major college football programs. He had already mixed in over a dozen unofficial visits to prospective future colleges amidst his academic and athletic obligations and planned a busy upcoming itinerary, including a June visit to Stanford. Now that he has returned from that visit to Palo Alto, we check in with him for an update on his recruitment. "It was great," Patterson summarizes his late June visit to the Stanford campus. "Everything seemed perfect. I couldn't find anything wrong."
When asked to expand on aspects of his visit that were appealing, the Peach State prospect rattled off a number of attributes Stanford presented: "The campus, the city, the weather, the academic resource offices, the facilities, academically and athletically."
As this list suggests, Patterson was particularly struck by the sights and scenes he saw on The Farm as part of the tours and informal meandering he experienced on Stanford's expansive campus. "I toured the facilities, which was nice," he says in describing some of those sites. "I got to meet a couple of professors, like Dr. [William C.] Dement. He's like the father of Sleep and Dreams. I got to meet him. Rode around the campus, saw Hoover Tower. Got to come down Palm Drive and walked around that [Memorial] Church and everything. So it was just nice out there."
While Patterson initially focuses on the iconic architecture and sights that define Stanford's campus, he also emphasizes some of the people he met out in California.
"I met Richard Sherman," Patterson continues, referring to the rising junior who has led the Cardinal in receiving yardage, catches, and receiving touchdowns since he matriculated to Stanford in the fall of 2006. "I talked to him for like 45 minutes. I got to meet a lot of the '08 players. Got to meet the young commitments coming in when I arrived there, all the '09 guys who committed there and like two recruits who had spent the night out there [when] I hung out with a buddy that night when we were down there."
As the 2009 receiver recruit indicates - and 2009 Stanford commit Shayne Skov also told The Bootleg in a recent story - Patterson was among a group that stayed with Skov's family as recruits descended upon the Bay Area for Stanford's late June stretch of summer camps and recruiting visits. That experience, coupled with the well-attended camps and "Monday Night Ball" festivities on Stanford's campus, gave Patterson a sense of some of the other prospects being targeted by Stanford's coaching staff for this recruiting class.
"They're all great, we all have a lot in common," Patterson offers of the initial bonds he formed. "It was nice there," he continues, later saying it "would be great" to play with some of the fellow recruits he met that week. Beyond giving Patterson a taste for what it would be like to play with potential future teammates, the visit provided an introduction to working with a potential position coach, Stanford Offensive Coordinator and Wide Receivers Coach David Shaw. In particular, Patterson got a chance to participate in the "Monday Night Ball" event in Stanford Stadium, which included one-on-one drills, receiver lines, and the obligatory "Cardinal Ball" that Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh fancies.
"Oh, it was great," Patterson reflects. "I learned a lot from Coach Shaw. Ran lines with Coach Shaw, got to see his philosophies at wide out." "Monday Night Ball" also brought other top targets for the Cardinal onto the field for spirited drills and competition. Patterson was impressed by what he saw, saying "a lot of them" stood out. "A couple of the commits: Terrence Stephens, Shayne Skov, Brock Sanders, Levine [Toilolo], I can't remember his name, a tight end," Patterson observes. "Some guy named Xavier [Su'a-Filo]. Oh, he was just great. There were a lot of guys that stood out. It was nice. Josh Nunes." Nunes has since committed to Tennessee with Stanford receiving its own quarterback commitment from 4-star Idaho signal caller Taysom Hill, but the other prospects Patterson highlights are either committed to Stanford or, in the case of Su'a-Filo, a top remaining target.
With Patterson being impressed by (and apparently making connections with) prospects that like him are high on Stanford's wish list for the 2009 class, he is perhaps influenced to some degree by the bonds he formed on his visit. For Stanford, that could be a major turning point in a recruitment that Patterson long has said will hinge on academics, a chance to play early, and the connections he makes with coaches and players. For his part, Patterson reaffirms that those remain his top criteria in picking a school.
"Academics, chance to play early - I definitely don't want to redshirt," Patterson reiterates in laying out the same factors he told The Bootleg in May. "And having a great bond with the staff and the team. I want to go somewhere where I can feel like it's family again."
As he has also said consistently throughout his recruitment, Patterson emphasizes that distance will not influence his decision.
"No sir, not at all," he says of whether distance will affect his decision. "My family is in the military so we've moved around a lot, so it's not a factor." Given these clearly delineated criteria that emphasize things that Patterson has highlighted in Stanford as well as the ostensible lack of importance of distance for the Georgian speedster, Stanford would appear to be in good position in Patterson's recruitment. While he says he does not have any favorites yet, he does provide some additional thoughts about Stanford's appeal when asked about any schools standing out.
"They're all nice," Patterson volunteers. "Coming from Stanford, they helped my recruitment a lot because they made me see that they have a good school. They compete. They have a great '08 class and with the '09 guys they have I see it going real well. I could see Coach Harbaugh and his staff turning it around. I like the whole coaching staff. They're all energetic, they're into it, there's nobody who's lazy or grouchy or anything like that. They're all energetic and into it."
While these responses are surely music to the ears of Stanford Football fans, the most exciting news for Patterson and Stanford recruiting observers alike is that he received the "bump" on his ACT score he told The Bootleg he was looking for with a June retake. A stellar student at Henry County HS, Patterson nonetheless had some work to do to be confident he could pass through Stanford Admissions. The recruit now sounds like he has that confidence.
"I retook my ACTs and I got my score," he points out. "I got a 26." With that score in, Patterson turns his attention to completing the Stanford application. "I'm pretty set on it this week," Patterson reveals of his approach to the application. "I got one. I've got a week off from work and school and stuff - and camps - for the Fourth of July. I've got all week left to finish everything out with that. I already got my recommendations and stuff. I've pretty much already been admitted," he confidently predicts. "I just have my application, just tell them about myself and that's pretty much it because my grades - I have a 4.56 GPA and a 26 on my ACT now so… just have to fill my applications out and tell them about myself so they can get to know me."
From Stanford's perspective, then, the next critical stages in Jamal Patterson's recruitment are the submission and final reading of his application. Patterson's path to a commitment also looks like it could include the traditional trappings of elite football recruitments that can extend those recruitments deep into the fall or even winter. "Yes, I'm going to take all my official visits," Patterson reveals when asked about his plans for the fall.
"I'm not sure yet of a date or anything," he clarifies about his plans for ending his recruitment. "Possibly at the Under Armour game. It's possible there." So while Stanford looks to be in exciting position for the Under Armour All-American and top 150 national recruit, the wait for word on his college destination may extend deeper into the year and even into January. In the meantime, Stanford and the other schools hot on Jamal Patterson's trail will continue to vie for his attention and keep close tabs on his recruitment.
Despite having already visited a plethora of potential schools, more visits are on tap. "Notre Dame and I'm trying to make West Virginia," Patterson adds as additional visit destinations. "If I can't make West Virginia, I would take it for an official possibly. Then I'll be going to Oregon on July 16th. We're going to Beaverton, Oregon for a national 7-on-7 event. They invite eight teams in the nation and my team was invited there. So we'll be going out there and we're trying to rent a car or something to drive down there [to Eugene]." Stay tuned to Scout.com for more on Patterson's recruitment, including how he fares in the aforementioned Nike National 7-on-7 Tournament.
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