December 10, 2008

Patterson has leader, but .....

MOBILE, Ala. _ Patrick Patterson said on Tuesday afternoon that he remains undecided regarding his upcoming college choice.

A bit of a sparkle in his eyes, the slightest of smiles and a subtle shift in body language betrayed his words. The four-star wide receiver from Macon (Noxubee County), Miss., may not be ready to make a verbal commitment or declare a favorite, but he at least allowed one brick of his public fašade to come down.

Asked if Tuesday were National Signing Day and he had to pick the school where he'd attend and play college football, Patterson admitted he wouldn't be too confused to do it.

"I'd be able to pick one," Patterson said. "There's one that sticks out."

That's as far as the 6-foot-3, 215-pound speedster would go. Asked if he would reveal that one school, Patterson laughed loudly and simply said, "Uh-uh."

Patterson didn't even give a hint. He has two visits set up so far, one to Auburn on Jan. 9 and one to Southern Mississippi on Jan. 16. He said Tuesday he plans to take official visits to Ole Miss and Alabama as well, and indicated that he's "taking a look" at Mississippi State, pending the Bulldogs' hiring of a replacement for Sylvester Croom, who resigned from his post one day after losing at Ole Miss, 45-0, in Oxford on Nov. 28.

"It's been a tough process," Patterson said. "Talking to the coaches and stuff like that, they're always calling now. People around the community are always asking what school you're going to and all that."

Patterson admitted that the reserved, quiet person reporters encounter during interviews isn't necessarily the guy friends, family and even a few college coaches interact with. Asked if any of the coaches on the recruiting trail had gotten him to open up, Patterson laughed.

"I open up a whole lot," Patterson said. "(Running backs) Coach (Derrick) Nix from Ole Miss, he's gotten to me the most. It's a real good relationship. He's somebody you can sit down and talk to about anything.

"They're telling me I'd come in and play early because they have a quarterback (Jevan Snead) who's going to throw the ball around. They said they need some more receivers to throw it to. I could see myself fitting into (Ole Miss' offense). They don't throw the ball to just one receiver. They throw the ball to a lot of receivers."

Southern Mississippi has told Patterson it wants him to go to Hattiesburg and be DeAndre Brown's partner in pass-catching crime.

"Southern Miss runs the spread offense," Patterson said. "They throw the ball 50 times a game. Ole Miss, they throw it about 30. They run the ball a little more than all the other schools. …I prefer a spread, but I could play in the pro-style too, though."

This week, Patterson figures to share the receiving wealth with wide receiver Kevin Norwood, among others. Noxubee County defeated Norwood's d'Iberville squad Saturday night, 12-10, for the Class 4A state championship. The game was billed as a match-up between Patterson and Norwood, and the two elite prospects went against each other all night on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game.

"It was a good feeling knowing that we had never won a state championship at the school," Patterson said. "With it being my senior year, I did what I wanted to do.

"It was a challenge, knowing that everybody was going to be watching y'all go up against each other. We play similar. We know how to get separation from the defender."

Days later, Patterson said, he and Norwood are sharing a room as Team Mississippi prepares for Saturday's Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

"We've gotten a chance to know each other," Patterson said. "He's a pretty good guy."

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