Patton hopes to catch on

Like a power-hitting who hits his home runs in bunches, Janssen Patton picked off passes in bunches while at Bowling Green. <BR><BR> In fact, he's the only player in NCAA Division I-A history to record two three-interception games in the same season. And it was a feat the Bowling Green cornerback did three times in his career.

Patton's ability to force turnovers is one of the things that landed him in Pittsburgh as an undrafted rookie free agent.

"When the ball's in the air, I look at it as mine," said Patton, the son of former Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco running back Ricky Patton. "That's my best attribute."

Those ball skills are why the Steelers feel Patton can make the transition from cornerback to free safety. He picked off 18 career passes at Bowling Green - the third-most in MAC history - including seven his senior season.

"Janssen has a real shot at being a contributor at the next level because of his great instincts," Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon told the Sentinel-Tribune. "He has a nose for the football and consistently was able to come up with big plays throughout his collegiate career. That's not something you can teach."

Patton was named a third-team All-American by College Football News and honorable mention by CNNSI following his senior season. But because he lacks great speed - he's been timed at 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash, he's being moved to safety.

"My biggest transition is going to be coming up and making tackles, the physical side of the game," Patton said. "But I feel like it's something I can do."

The 5-11 Patton has already added 10 pounds to his frame to better accomplish that, bulking up to 195 pounds.

While Steelers' first-round pick Ben Roethlisberger is now one of the most famous players to come out of the MAC, Patton feels the conference is finally starting to get its football due.

"Ben is a great player, no doubt about it," Patton said. "But he's not the only good player in that conference. I never intercepted him, but he never beat me for a touchdown. I held my own.

"We play good football in the MAC. Everybody is starting to realize that now. There's no longer a stigma about players coming out of the MAC."

Included in those great MAC players is former Bowling Green quarterback Josh Harris, a sixth-round draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens. Harris and Patton were roommates in college, but could end up facing each other down the road if both earn spots on their respective teams' rosters.

"Janssen Patton is an excellent player and I think he'll be a pleasant surprise," Harris said. "He's definitely a guy that the quarterback has to deal with and you have to be aware of him. He has a presence and an attitude and those are things you need to be a successful cornerback."

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