OXFORD – Regardless of what is going on in Oxford these days, one thing is certain. In sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson, Ole Miss has an immensely talented and bright young quarterback who is primed to have a breakout 2017 season.
Patterson showed his tremendous potential as a premier signal caller in a power five conference when he led Ole Miss to a 29-28 come-from-behind victory at Texas A&M last season.
In the game against the Aggies, his first collegiate game, Patterson completed 25 of 38 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns and also rushing for 69 yards on 15 carries.
At SEC Media Days on July 13, offensive lineman Javon Patterson remarked on Shea’s tremendous potential, calling him “a great kid and a great worker.”
“He is a gym rat and he is the first one in and last one to leave. He has really been using his potential, and I look forward to seeing him bring that to the fall.”
Javon Patterson on QB Shea Patterson
At the annual gathering of SEC Media in Hoover, Alabama, defensive lineman Breeland Speaks was also asked his thoughts on Patterson. “He’s a cool guy, very leveled-headed, doesn’t get rattled,” Speaks commented.
Patterson prepared to run the 2017 offense
As a true freshman last year, Patterson felt he learned a lot by getting out there in front of huge crowds and having the opportunity to play alongside his teammates in the Rebels’ final three games of 2016. Patterson, who had been on track to redshirt, took over the reins of the Rebels’ offense following Chad Kelly’s season-ending injury.
“I think that will really benefit me going into this season,” Patterson said, regarding those three games in which he ended the year completing 72 of 132 passes for 880 yards, six touchdowns, and only three interceptions.
Under new offensive coordinator Phil Longo, Patterson will run an offense that has all the tools to be pass-happy. A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Van Jefferson, Markell Pack, and DaMarkus Lodge are among the talented receivers Patterson will play alongside this upcoming season.
Another notable receiver who was part of the 2016 class is redshirt freshman Tre Nixon. The highly-rated Nixon could be another solid target for Patterson.
Patterson has already received preseason recognition, being named to the Davey O’Brien Award Watch List honoring the nation’s best quarterback, and the Maxwell Award Watch List which honors the nation’s best player.
Patterson joined by elite, young quarterbacks in the SEC
In addition to Patterson, the SEC has seven other young quarterbacks who will garner attention at the signal-caller position.
Sophomore quarterbacks Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), and Jake Bentley (South Carolina) will look to put their programs in position for a successful season.
Hurts has already done that after leading Alabama to its third straight SEC Championship and second straight appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Stidham, ESPN’s No. 1 JUCO prospect coming out of McLennan Community College, enters fall camp as the likely starter under center for the Tigers. He played his 2015 season at Baylor, where he completed 75 of 109 passes for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman.
Jake Bentley led South Carolina to a 6-6 regular season record last year, despite not playing in the team’s first six games in 2016. Gamecocks’ coach Will Muschamp recently said his quarterback is “mature beyond his years.” Bentley finished the season completing 125 of 190 passes for 1,420 yards, nine touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Four other SEC quarterbacks who will be critical to their team’s success for the 2017 season include:
Mississippi State’s sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald: In the 2016 season, he completed 196 of 361 passes for 2,423 yards, threw for 21 touchdowns, and finished with 10 interceptions.
Georgia’s sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason: In the 2016 season, Eason completed 204 of 370 passes for 2,430 yards, notched 16 touchdowns and threw eight interceptions.
Missouri’s junior quarterback Drew Lock: In his 2016 campaign, Lock completed 237 of 434 passes for 3,399 yards, tallied 23 touchdowns, and had 10 interceptions.
Vanderbilt’s junior quarterback Kyle Shurmur: In 2016 he completed 204 of 375 passes for 2,409 yards, nine touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
Shea Patterson ready to put the ball down and play
With such talented players at the critical signal-caller position, Saturdays in the SEC should definitely be exciting this season. As for Shea Patterson, he’s just ready to play football. At the Ole Miss press conference held Monday to introduce Matt Luke as new interim head coach of the Rebels, Patterson expressed his desire to get back on the field.
“I love this university. I love my teammates. Camp begins August 2, and all I can do is prepare with the brothers I love. I can’t wait to start this new offense with (offensive coordinator) Coach (Phil) Longo, and we’re all so excited about it.”
Ole Miss opens the 2017 season on September 2 at 6:30 p.m. versus South Alabama.
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)